Album Review: Sarah Blasko – Eternal Return (2015 LP)

It’s hard to be happy and interesting at the same time. Often, if you listen to an album that comes from a “happy place,” your most likely reaction is going to be either envy or boredom. The fact is, most great art comes from a place of pain – the prevailing wisdom is that dissatisfaction is the most universal theme.

This is what makes Sarah Blasko’s new album, Eternal Return, such an achievement – it is a beautiful album of love songs that takes a largely positive approach. It would be simplistic to say that it’s all sunshine and roses, but the album is written from the perspective of new love, rather than the typical breakup album.

Part of the success has to be put down to the music – the heavy use of synths is a stylistic shift from Blasko’s earlier work, but she clearly has an ear for a melody, and the instrumentation on Eternal Return is gorgeous, effortlessly moving from stately synth ballads to an almost Vampire Weekend-esque sound in “Maybe This Time.” The music is instantly likeable and replayable – before the song is even finished, you feel as if it’s been with you your whole life.

The album’s words are filled with literary references, from the title of the LP itself, which references German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, to the haunting final track “Without,” whose “if you have not love” refrain quotes the bible.

Actually, the entire album has an almost religious viewpoint on love, which is fitting given Blasko’s evangelical upbringing. The idea of new love is portrayed as a sublime, almost frightening thing.

This is the element that keeps the lyrics from being cheap or cliched – there is no real heartbreak here, but the portrayals of new love, sometimes fearful, sometimes tentative and sometimes joyous are universal. Blasko has tapped into a range of emotions that everyone feels, and it’s refreshing to hear lyrics about love that are positive and outward-looking, as opposed to the histrionics that dominate the lyrics of most pop stars.

The standout track has to be the single, “I’d Be Lost”, a perfect piece of 80s pop that goes from staccato verses to a big,  swelling chorus. It’s the song that exemplifies Blasko’s new direction.

Eternal Return is an album that will really be suited to any situation – it can be blasted from speakers on the beach, or listened to alone, under the covers. The songs have such a personal resonance that you won’t know whether to share their beauty with everyone you know or to keep them as your little secret.

Review Score: 9.0 out of 10

Eternal Return is out now.