Tookah (too·kah), noun: the innate essence of being in between one’s virtuous and sinful bodies; a union of the soul where bliss and gratitude coexist.
That’s the best definition I could come up with for the word invented by Icelandic songstress Emiliana Torrini for her new album Tookah. Her efforts to annoy lexicographers notwithstanding, naming her album this would seem to suggest that Emiliana has turned more inward for her sixth album, relying on her more spiritual side to act as her muse.
The title opener certainly goes some way to imply that is the case. She asks to be taken to a place “where time is a waste of time”, asking her body to “let your senses override”. Musically this minimalist synthpop goes against her traditionally more upbeat style like her 2009 hit ‘Jungle Drum’. Think something akin to Grimes, though this time more hippie than hipster.
Nevertheless the second track ‘Caterpillar’ narrows the scale and serves as a sweet, gentle requiem as she looks to nature, youth and her homeland for clarity as the album becomes more stripped down and acoustic towards the halfway mark.
With all this reminiscence and soul-searching the album in a way begins to be about how it was itself created. Part of this is due to the four year period it took to create the album, during which Emiliana became a mother for the first time. In ‘Home’ both her son and Iceland become her eternal companions as she sings “You’re in my heart/Creaking off the snow…now I’ll never walk the ice alone”. She seems to be at this point a woman looking for and recognising the constants in her life, both old and new.
Another constant is producer Dan Carey, having worked on her previous three albums. They have proven themselves to be quite a productive duo in the past, writing Kylie Minogue’s 2003 hit ‘Slow’ together. Here his production style once again works beautifully with Torrini’s deft way around both synthesiser and guitar, with both seeming to be on top form for the album’s first single ‘Speed of Dark’. Frankly it’s brilliant, driving cool 80s synth-pop beats and just-above-a-whisper vocals – definitely worth a listen before Nicolas Winding Refn gets his hands on it for his next Ryan Gosling dour-fest.
It won’t give too many surprises to her fans and will hardly win over anyone unconverted to the genre, but there is enough here to satisfy those looking for a solid electronic/acoustic album to bookend their summer. You could hardly do better than this.