Back after a three-year break following 2009’s acclaimed Secrets & Lies, local songstress Bertie Blackman returns with the obtusely titled Pope Innocent X. Thanfully, from the opening, delicate notes of opener Tremors onwards, it’s obvious this is n

o overcooked, overthought follow-up (ala Florence & The Machine’s histrionic Ceremonials). From the hushed, gorgeous tones of that wonderful opener, Blackman veers from new wave pop (the slightly ‘60s Mercy Killer), to Kate Bush-esque excursions in spooky theatrics (Growl Howl, with its addictive ‘Awooo!’ refrain). Best of all, though, is Stella, where all those production flourishes are stripped back to gorgeous effect. A fantastic effort.

Pope Innocent X is out October 12 through Universal.

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