It's always nice to hear a refreshing new pop artist. Natalie McCool is the fresh new face on the block, and she brings something new to the table with her debut record The Great Unknown.
The Great Unknown isn't pop in the traditional sense. It's a mix of darkness and the modern, radio pop that most may be familiar with. Natalie McCool doesn't appear to be a sellout, though. The music is pure in every sense, clearly not some of the more fabricated stuff you'd here from time to time. There are plenty of moments when the album's purity comes into play, perhaps not becoming most clear until the final track 'When You Love Somebody.' This track is the most bubblegum pop you'll heard on the record, simple and easygoing as McCool dreamily sings "it's there when you love somebody."
There are plenty of sweet moments on this record like this track. See 'Fortress,' bringing forward the sweet punchy synths of LIGHTS and sweet harmonies you might expect of St. Vincent. It's danceable but its understated, something you'd might slowly sway to on a cloudy day in town. It's definitely not a city song - it's a country song at heart; not stylistically, but intrinsically. It builds with power, elements piling together for one powerful yet fun end. Much is the same about 'Magnet,' the simple lyrics crooned sweetly and with lots of fun. It's more immediately upfront and has more urgency to it, but it's a solid pop song all around.
The Great Unknown has some darkness to it, too. 'Just Let Me Go' changes the scene of the record, dark and brooding with the poetry of Aurora and the spacious understanding of Chelsea Wolfe. It's a slow moving beast, the mystery building slowly, treading across the floor like the "demon [that] burns all our souls" that the song refers too. 'Feel Good' follows up, not as dark but with the same mood to it. It's not the dark, poetic monster that 'Just' was, but its darker vibe helps make it feel a bit more serious.
The are very few weak moments on the record. From the sweet beginning of 'Pins' right to the very end, it's a pretty great and chill record. The only moment that stands out as particularly bad is 'Cardiac Arrest,' where the lyrics don't quite get the message across like they should. Otherwise, the record is a very clear and solid pop record.
The Great Unknown is a great introduction into the music industry for Natalie McCool. There's a clear understanding of her sound and a great control of poetic emotion and pure emotion. This is the start of a strong career - this songwriter's pop rock flair is going to be a driving force for those to come.
Favorite Tracks: Just Let Me Go, Fortress, Magnet, Pins
Least Favorite Track: Cardiac Arrest
Rating: 78 / 100