Album Reviews

Susanna – Triangle


How does a collection of songs become more than the sum of its parts and coalesce into a greater whole? Surely, sharing a musical or lyrical theme should suffice, but countless records have succumbed to the trappings of the generic in following that format. Given the risk, what’s the real benefit of opting for such rigidity in self-expression? Susanna’s Triangle is a great example of why the album as an idea works and how magical it can be. Over its ambitious runtime, the release primarily focuses on a fluid, transient interpretation of what constitutes a song. The emphasis here is on an almost formless sketch-like approach to songwriting, eschewing the typical verse-chorus-verse presentation in favour of something harder to neatly define. Every second of the record is devoted to the exploration and realisation of this idea and, in doing so, makes a cohesive whole, that while too gluttonous for its own good, is still worth some deep investigations.

Susanna’s music can best be summarised as a fusion between the aggression and passion of P.J. Harvey, the ethereal warbling of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love and the poetic vision of Patti Smith. While it isn’t as powerful or intense as any of its major influences, it’s still a terribly interesting experience. The pieces oscillate between previously mentioned sketch-like format and a slightly more structured approach. The former style provides cuts such as the charming ‘Ebb and Flow’ and the ominously beautiful album opener ‘Holy/Sacred’. These delightful trifles set an unconventional, free-flowing mood that that grants the rigidly defined tracks a greater freedom and mystery. With that said, the forms that many of the more ordered songs possess are so loose and malleable that it’s barely recognisable, let alone imposing. This format primarily exists in the form of repetitious lyrics, which loop by again and again in either some harmonious metronome or ghoulish incantation. As with Kate Bush, Susanna has this fascination with the symbolic nature of water but also with the degradation of the natural world and humanity as evidenced on ‘Decomposing’, ‘Texture Within’ and ‘Death Hanging’. All of the tracks have this impressionistic magic buried within them as though they’re long lost snippets from an older innocent time, but it is the titular ‘Triangle’ that steals the show.

The record falls down on its length, however. There is a lot to dive into here, comfortably stepping into the realm of far too much. At over an hour in length and with nearly twenty-five songs, it can, at times, be a challenge to finish in a single sitting, the manner in which it seems to have been intended to be consumed. Everything is excellent, but as you move comfortably towards minute seventy you begin to question the need for a song ‘Born Again’ or the synthpop laden ‘Hole’. Having so much material makes for an exhausting listen that you wish could have shaved down by one or two. Still, Triangle is an intriguing, dense and heavenly behemoth filled with a great deal of effervescence and enchantment. It’s a properly hypnotising album. Will Murphy