An untouchable and realistic documentation of motherhood
Meg Berridge
09:00 1st October 2021

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It was 2018 when Tirzah birthed her outstanding debut full-length Devotion, an organic and melodic odyssey. Three years on, she has returned with a record that is no less enticing as her previous offerings, doing what she does best in the form of neatly constructed and transcendental compositions.  

The title of her latest project, Colourgrade, is a word drenched in power, conjuring many an image of glass refractions, rainbows and the contrasting hues of the evening sky. In its definition, colour grading is the improvement and enhancement of a picture for different settings. What this means for Tirzah’s album is open for interpretation—with an artist holding as enigmatic a reputation as Tirzah, there’s no purpose in decoding the subtext.  

As with Devotion, the central theme of Colourgrade is also relationships. However, in this scenario we witness the artist’s empirical journey into motherhood in an outwardly pensive and raw performance that documents not only the beauty of maternity but its morose appendages. Although, unlike her previous repertoire, Colourgrade dwells in the realm of the unpredictable. 

The album’s opener and title track is an acid trip serenade with the whimsical hoots of '70s kids show The Clangers as the backing singers. With the repetition of the mantra “Keep your face straight colourgrade”, this warm-up act very much sets the tone for the album as a cathartic emblem of concealed emotion and lethargy. 

Tracks 'Tectonic' and 'Hive Mind' share a sense of familiarity; introed with a punchy kick, textured synth layer and warm half-sung vocals. Long-time collaborator Coby Sey features on the latter, providing a much needed second voice to the mix. It’s also at this point that the album begins to dull into something lacklustre. 

A bolt from the blue comes 'Recipe'. The rumbling sub and off-kilter vocals rise above an unexpected wall of static. Perhaps one of the less coded tracks, it exists as an exposition of inheritance: what she will and won’t pass on. It’s with 'Recipe' that the curtains of Colourgrade’s emotional density begin to draw back. From here, Tirzah adopts unpolished expression with the sleep-deprived one-take lullaby of 'Sleeping' and the psychedelic dream-state vortex of 'Crepuscular Rays', both tracks destined to be listened to in the early am. 

Frontrunner 'Send Me' stands out from the rest of the track-list as the most memorable with its resounding melody and imposing bassline. Succeeded by the trudging infantile march of 'Sink In', we can understand the album more as a submission to emotion, be it tenderness or indifference. 

Closing with a surprise influx of electronic kisses on 'Hips', Tirzah ends on the perplexing notes of freedom and entrapment intertwined, again descending into uncertainty, echoed by antithetical lyrics: “Super cold, hot to hold”. 

Encompassing the equivocal sub-text of the album, 'Hips' annotates light in the darkness and darkness in the light. In its intimacy and indifference, Tirzah presents Colourgrade, an untouchable and realistic documentation of motherhood. 

Colourgrade is out now.

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Photo: Press