Gender Non-Conforming Artist SOPHIE’s Newest Album
'OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES'
OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES, a double entendre of “ I love every person’s insides” is the brainchild of the producer and artist SOPHIE. Known for a futuristic pop sound filled with booming bass and electronic experimentalism, SOPHIE was once a secretive musician that had been rarely photographed and gave virtually no interviews, and was shrouded in mystery for years until the release of her first music video. A self-directed debut music video, “It’s Okay To Cry,” was released in October 2017.
The video served as a public coming out with the reveal of her face, and pronouns it was an intimate first look at the artist as she appears shirtless in the video, singing with her own unedited voice. Lyrics, such as “I think your inside is your best side,” and “even after all this time/just know you’ve got nothing to hide,” draws connections to experiences with transitioning and learning self-love. A courageous statement that the voice you are born with and the body you are born with doesn’t have to limit your expression and identity.
The long-awaited full-length album was released this month via Transgressive Records. Three years since her last album, PRODUCT, was released in 2015, and it’s the first album she has released since revealing her identity to the music world.
OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES runs about 40 minutes long, opening with the vulnerable and sensual “It’s Okay To Cry,” which is arguably the most “normal” track on the album. “Ponyboy” is a single released in the winter of 2017 and has more of a familiar sound, featuring SOPHIE’s experimental pop with an almost crushing oppressive beat accompanied by extremely sexual lyrics. “Faceshopping” comes in like a mechanical femme anthem that has fully materialized. The song makes reference to plastic surgery, which gives this raw energy of how it is dealing with body dysmorphia; the music video shows an animated version of SOPHIE’s face and body becoming stretched and distorted. It challenges and deconstructs the idea of authentic vs. synthetic, and portrays that identity can be one you make yourself.
With the beginning of “Infatuation,” it feels like a synth mechanical orchestra accompanied by ethereal vocals and percussion; it’s followed by “Not Okay.” The middle of the album seems to have an odd and awkward transition to the following track, “Pretending.” A haunting atmosphere seemed long and drawn out for a song on its own, but listening to it with the transition to “Immaterial,” is like shifting from an ambient and disorienting cinematic experience to a pop dream world with some of the most infectious lyrics and beats on the entire album. “Whole New World” feels like an out of this world state of emergency that runs nine minutes long, which is a fitting end to the extremely eclectic album.
Her music often is subjected to critical analysis, but personally, I think this album is supposed to make you feel something. SOPHIE’s sound is an acquired taste, but it reigns true that she is a pioneer in this genre of experimentalism.