Amber Arcades, the moniker of the Dutch-born musician Annelotte De Graaf, announces details of her second album, European Heartbreak, set for release on 28th September 2018 via Heavenly Recordings.
European Heartbreak was recorded and co-produced in LA with Chris Cohen from Deerhoof and in Richmond, Virginia with Trey Pollard (Natalie Prass, The Waterboys, Bedouine) who oversaw horn and string overdubs from Spacebomb. A vast step forward from her critically acclaimed debut album Fading Lines, this selection of songs flit around Europe, from Berlin to Spain to the south of France. It’s European not just in lyrical theme but in the sly sophistication of its music: songs that carry with them the air of open-topped cars on clifftop roads, of cocktails on the terrace at sunset. And then the lyrics undercut that sunny mood, artfully and skilfully.
European Heartbreak is about the nature of past and memory and our tendency to over-romanticise the events of our lives. It also deals with the passage of time, the relationship between past, present and future. And what is revealed, as the past is examined, is the disillusionment that had been concealed behind the carapace of romance. “Alpine Town”, “Oh My Love”, “Something’s Gonna Take Your Love Away” and “Goodnight Europe” encapsulate the album, digging into the themes of the record the most. Tourism, the romanticising of the past and of new love, how everything moves in cycles, the way things always change but never really change, our fluid concepts of nationality and identity… Both in politics and in love. European Heartbreak is an album that feels devastatingly truthful, precisely because it admits the lies.
After recording sessions in LA, Annelotte embarked on a week-long road trip through California’s national parks ending up in Death Valley, viewing the sunset from a famous vantage point. Surrounded by tourists with their smartphones, all very much not of their environment, the moment captured the sense of alientation that haunts the album’s 11 songs. Everything clicked, it all came together: our quest for meaning, our ongoing existential crisis, our desire to live life to the fullest, and our need to convince ourselves we are doing so and to try to prove it to the world: through something as mundane as holiday photos. Photostaken at this moment would end up forming the album artwork and imagery.
You can take all that from European Heartbreak. On the other hand, of course, you can just hear one of the year’s best pop records, and relish the skill of the writing, the depth of the production, the insidiousness of the melodies. It depends how far you want to lift the veil of life.