Chicago label Minty Fresh handled the recent U.S. release of the self-titled debut full-length
by young Danish singer Lisa Alma
, but I don’t know much about her except that she has a master’s degree in theater and performance studies. Alma recorded almost everything on the album—vocals, synths, piano, programmed beats—at her home, and the music has a hushed intimacy that feels anything but theatrical. Her lush confections recall 80s new wave pop, except for their soul-steeped melodies—though her sweet, mannered, and slightly woozy-sounding voice isn’t particularly soulful in and of itself, the tunes remind me of Sade. Alma’s delivery is strong and graceful but a little airy, as though she’s singing to herself in front of a mirror, and her songs have burrowed into my brain quickly, darting past that icky nostalgia button to stand on their own. Her lyrics seem to reach for “romantic” and “poignant,” but their cryptic images don’t translate her thoughts in any meaningful way; thankfully her folksy directness and endearing pop instincts make the words easy to ignore. —Peter Margasak Olafur Arnalds headlines.