Chronicling a year of seismic change for Polly Mackey, who performs under the name Art School Girlfriend, her new album ‘Is It Light Where You Are’ is torn straight from the pages of her 2019 diary. In this latest release, Polly brews together a spectacular potion of melancholic dream-pop that is certain to make even the most realistic of minds transport to a world far away.
The release of her latest album comes in the wake of Polly’s own headline tour and festival dates at Latitude, Green Man, and Radio 1’s Big Weekend, capping off a successful 2021 for the Northern Welsh producer and multi-instrumentalist.
And on top of her eagerness to perform live, ‘Is It Light Where You Are’ is arguably her most impressive concoction to date, successfully showcasing her commendable ability to translate emotions through sound design.
She was raised on shoegaze, and this shines through in her new album. Using duality between light and dark as a key theme, she builds tranquil landscapes before crushing them in sound; a constant push-pull in dynamics gives the construction a charging momentum over the immersive and emotionally spiralling 43 minutes.
A heavy mixture of emptiness and desolation will almost certainly grip you after listening to any of the synth-driven songs in the album. While the title track is described by its creator as her best invention yet, there is something to uncover in them all. Supersonic electronic sounds are fitted in with an endlessly delightful ‘90’s shoegaze influence that interchanges with a grittier feeling, helping to procure an array of addictive and atmospheric shockwaves.
You will feel a part of Polly’s story by the end of the album. Following her path as she runs through the bountiful grievances of becoming obsessed with someone you’ve projected an ideal onto, hoping they give you something they’ve shown no signs of giving, you will inevitably become trapped by a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings, especially when the album ends, leaving you with one last message: ‘Is It Light Where You Are’.
Emotion-provoking, immersive and ridiculously heart consuming, Art School Girlfriend has had a year to remember, and her latest album completes a flawless 2021. ****
'Is It Light Where You Are' is out now on all major streaming platforms.