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Julia Holter Paints Vivid Pictures With Sound on Something in the Room She Moves

The indie songwriter’s ear for ethereal sounds makes for her dreamiest offering yet.

by Michelle Cavaleri

Julia Holter is no stranger to composing grand and ethereal atmospheres into her music. Her latest release, Something in the Room She Moves, however, elevates this artistry to new heights. Pushing boundaries and embracing a more present focus, she captivates listeners with a unique sonic journey.

Opening the album with “Sun Girl,” the track gives listeners an introduction to the soundscapes that are present throughout the rest of the album. Layers of flutes, mimicking birds, and vocals drenched in heavy reverb transport listeners to a summer day. Holter continues to craft these enchanting landscapes on tracks like “Ocean” and “Evening Mood,” drawing inspiration from Studio Ghibli’s film Ponyo and its transformative tale of a fish becoming a girl. Here, drawn-out melodies, sliding basslines, and glittering synths merge to create a fluid, liquid-like atmosphere. “Materia” is an intimate track, paring things down to only isolated vocals and keys that contrast with the chaotic sounds present in the rest of the album, while on “Meyou,” Holter explores dissonant and layered vocal harmonies that create an uneasy but mysterious conclusion to the album’s first half. Something in the Room She Moves draws inspiration from The Beatles’ legendary lyric “Something in the way she moves,” flipping the male gaze to assert a more empowered and dominant perspective of women. 

As the album unfolds, it immerses you into a state that feels dreamlike, yet also vividly present. Holter’s production choices, coupled with delicately layered vocals, serve her vision of creating a world that’s fluid-sounding, evoking the body’s internal sound world. For those craving an album that paints vivid, lucid pictures in your mind, Something in the Room She Moves will take you on that journey.