Album Review: Emilie Autumn – Fight Like A Girl

Photo: Elizabeth Broadhurst

It’s widely regarded that Emilie Autumn’s sophomore album ‘Opheliac’ was released in the stone age and has been promptly re-released every year since. Thankfully, somebody plucked up the courage to complain to the outspoken Ms. Autumn and was greeted with the news last year that ‘Fight Like A Girl’, her latest effort, was being conceived. After a pretty lengthy labour, the anticipation for the work amongst critics and fans alike has been remarkable. But Emilie Autumn never does what you expect.

This isn’t simply a record, nor is it just a concept album; ‘Fight Like A Girl’ is a musical soundtrack that, just so happens, has come before the musical itself and critiquing material such as ‘I Don’t Understand’ as merely an album track would be doing an injustice to the work. That doesn’t mean, however, that it can get away with being sloppy and overly long – in fact, Ms. Autumn made it even more difficult for herself as she attempts to build characters, formulate a plot and keep the tunes coming thick and fast. Nobody can ever accuse E.A. of not working herself hard.

Let’s start with those tunes – namely the enormous title track, ‘Time For Tea’ and ‘Take The Pill’. Each of them show the progression Emilie has taken into the electro rock world and are not only catchy but also majestic and defiant, as is the message of the album. The violin she was famed for is absent but it isn’t missed too much; the harpsichord has seemingly taken it’s place as Emilie’s instrument of choice and it shines on the gorgeous ballad ‘Gaslight’ and (one of many highlights) ‘If I Burn’.

The concept behind the work is also intriguing (if you haven’t followed the albums conception and been aware of it for what feels like decades) and tells the story of Emilie escaping the asylum that she has worked hard in conveying on the live circuit and in the concept of previous album ‘Opheliac’. It’s in the story that ‘Fight Like A Girl’ shows it’s flaws, though. The tracks dot around in memories, alternating between voices and emotions that are often hard to follow without any visual aid. Introducing other voices and/or a few clearer segues might be of help to bringing the concept up to the same level as the songs.  As a result of the sentiment getting lost in translation, the potential weepie ‘Goodnight Sweet Ladies’ doesn’t quite have the same strength that it might have, had we been entirely sure of the plot.

‘Goodnight Sweet Ladies’ and ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ are, however, excellent closes to the release. The latter contains a well earned sense of optimism and hope that brings the tangible emotion of the album to a fitting close. ‘Fight Like A Girl’  may be a collection that succeed  as individual tracks but it’s amongst one another that they truly blossom and work with and against one another to produce the impressive third output from Autumn.

The songs posses few flaws (notably, the overly long ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ and tragically short ‘We Want Them Young’) and it’s evident that Emilie is honing her craft beautifully. There is development in shed loads; the electro elements succeed in being more electronic and the soundscapes are increasingly epic. It’s now that Emilie has stepped into the uncharted territory of musical theatre that the cracks begin to show; but surprisingly, considering it’s her first foray, there are only a few. Kudos, Ms. Autumn; I have even higher hopes for the next venture.

Photo: Elizabeth Broadhurst
Words: Simon McMurdo


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