Album Review: Phildel: Wave Your Flags – Imagery, Raw Emotion and Universal Thematic Appeal

A classic, self-confessed-noughties-loving-21st-century-student (pause for a ginormous breath), electropop folktronica heroine Phildel would not have been my first choice of artist to listen to. She probably wouldn’t have been my second…or indeed third.

That being said, there are still many elements of the dream-pop princess’ latest release, Wave Your Flags, that we can all definitely get on board with.

From its opening track, listeners are plunged into a vivid world of fantasy. The video for the single elucidates its meaning.

It presents a short animation centred on ram-human hybrid creature. As the lyrics explain, the figure is ‘easily lead to the deep’. They appear to use the ram mask as a shield; as a symbol of power. The same character features on the album cover, yet more colourfully depicted.

Societal gender expectations – and their toxic influence – seems to govern the overarching theme of the sequence. Perhaps its cover artwork explores the emotional confusion caused by pertinent issues like toxic masculinity.

Each track delivers raw and real emotion. “Electric Heights” expertly combines angelic high-hitting notes, eerie keyboard chords and lo-fi beats. To gain a clearer idea, imagine Hounds of Love Kate Bush meets Dido.

Darkness abounds throughout the album – but lighter moments appear also. “Lamb”, for example, conveys maternal sentiment. Its dulcet vocals even create a harmonious, almost spiritual effect. Don’t be fooled, though: this isn’t a purely innocent song collection. Like Blake, Phildel examines experience, too.

Consider “Glide Dog”, a sexy, animalistic number. Here, slow electro warbles accentuate her teasing, yet troublesome tone. “More pain to remember your name” is a particularly powerful phrase.

Final piece “Glorious” delivers a markedly brighter feel than its predecessor. As it closes, listeners may very well appreciate the dark overall vibe of the album. Perhaps the darker tracks heighten the positivity of its climax. As most people will argue, maybe we need  darkness to truly feel happiness.

Wave Your Flags certainly seems to illustrate this belief. That’s not to say, however, that its more sombre tracks aren’t great to listen to – they really are. Overall, the album is emotionally complex. Thematically, it could hold appeal for almost anyone.

The 35-year-old Londoner has certainly still got it.

April Curtin

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