Tension is at the heart of Ten Years of Solitude.
But this tension is not uncomfortable — in fact the sensation unravels into a whole world, an escape. Alya challenges her listeners to dig deep, to follow the many paths she has laid out. With tendrils that evoke a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel, this is an album with many throughways and conclusions. Jump on in.
Alya was born in Russia and is now based in Los Angeles. Following a successful career as a journalist, the artist decided to take a note from Robert Frost and choose the Road Not Taken. That road led her past ideas of genre classification and into a space rooted in experimentation and ambiance. If you’re looking for a frame of reference, think of the pop hooks of Sia, the depth of Evanescence, and the experimental impulses of Grimes.
Comparisons aside, there are moments on this record that glow in shimmering uniqueness. Industrial layers play with smooth vocal melodies on “Romano” which is delivered in Japanese. “Angel” floats above concreteness found elsewhere on the record. In between is “Hachiko” — which not only could be found in a high-level musical, but almost demands you envision one. Orchestral and moody, the track shifts the energy on the record into something outside of itself.
Stand out moments include the dark carnivalesque feel of “Animals” and the spaghetti-western flare and jump-quick vocals on “Half of the Sun”. “Puppet Strings” carries a pop sensibility: a summertime hit in an alternate dimension. “Colorful Dreams” pares it all back for a final glimpse of the artist, “Here we are, face to face,” the track begins. In this moment we can sense the pride with which Alya treats her work.
Now, listen again, find new layers, follow more threads. Ten Years of Solitude becomes a gift that keeps giving.