Brutal Romantic

Get ready for a curve ball. Brooke Fraser's latest release, Brutal Romantic, takes listeners in some fun new directions. On this, her fourth album, the Australian singer-songwriter proves that sometimes when an artist takes a leap of faith and shifts musical gears entirely, the result can be something good. The album largely abandons Fraser's previous acoustic/alt-pop leanings in favor of a more primal and electronic style, and Fraser's willingness to explore fascinating new musical avenues as well as plumb the depths of some heady social content in such a bold fashion makes for a fantastic, thought-provoking mix. Fraser's lyrical insight is razor-sharp on “Psychosocial,” with a gospel choir, a beat machine and a chorus of hand claps augmenting her musings on the pitfalls of social media and its damaging effects on our relational sensibilities. And on “Brutal Romance,” she sings with authority about how love can be tragic and heavenly at once, especially when placed against the backdrop of our impatient, technology-obsessed culture. And the way she inserts herself and her feelings into the narrative of “Magical Machine,” comparing herself to everything from megaphones to mp3s, is a daringly creative choice that might ring more true with listeners than they care to admit.