Julia Holter’s fifth album Aviary is now out from Domino. The Los Angeles artist teased the project with singles “I Shall Love 2” and “Words I Heard,” both of which pair ethereal vocals with intricate compositional structures. Aviary is a more lush, emotional project than Holter’s last studio album, 2015’s Have You in My Wilderness. Increased song lengths and arcane references to Renaissance literature make Aviary more ambitious release, too. It’s one of the year’s more challenging explorations of experimental pop—cerebral, but never unnecessarily so.
Holter has cited the poetry and music of the Middle Ages as a reference point for Aviary. “I’m a human trying to understand humanity in a time where our climate is changing. It’s a very scary and weird time,” she recently told Spin. “I was reading this book A Distant Mirror, which is about the 14th century. It felt like the end of the world then, with the bubonic plague killing off everyone in France and England. What always excites me in writing music is connecting all these things.” Intergenerational parallels and discontinuities mean the Middle Ages are present in the new record, but they don’t define it; Holter adopts another time as a mode of understanding our own, a partial lens for historical illumination.
Holder’s most recent project was In the Same Room, which featured live recordings of songs from her previous three albums: Have You In My Wilderness, Loud City Song, and Ekstasis. Stream her new album Aviary below, and read the full interview here.