In many ways Fleurie can be considered one of the frontrunners of the pop movement emerging in Nashville.
The alter-ego of Lauren Strahm has been a low-key favorite of mine since I reviewed the Arrows EP on this very blog a few years ago. I saw Fleurie as filling void left behind by another favorite, Kye Kye (is that third album ever going to come out?). Fleuries subsequent Love and War LP was good but had a certain heaviness to it that, while good, didn’t carry the magic of Arrows for me personally.
Portals is another step in the progression of Fleurie. If you like love songs with a celestial bent, you’ll love this album.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed in the progression of Fleurie is a nuance that might go unheard by some. Fleurie has always had somewhat of a conversational, airy tone with her vocals, but the production on Portals has her voice more pronounced. It’s possible that some critics might say that she’s adopting the “indie girl” voice, but I can’t say that’s a bad thing. “Constellate” is a heartwarming lead single that is dreamy and spunky at once. I’d describe the follow up, “Chasing Stars,” the same way.
It’s often mentioned in the industry that artists will place the filler tracks in the back half of the album, but my favorite tracks often seem to be popping up there. Such is the case with this record. My personal favorite moments in the album are in “Nomad” and “A World Beyond.” If you know me, you know that if music even carries an inkling of taking my mind to some fantastical realm, I eat it up. That’s what these songs do. I actually went through a phase as a teenager where I was obsessed with New Age music and spent a lot of time listening to Enya and a compilation called Pure Moods. The hook in “Nomads” brings back some of those feelings—making me feel like I’m floating somewhere where I’m surrounded by cool hues, the sea, and clouds. I’d also be remiss if I skipped a mention of “Future Signs,” which ends with a very hopeful bridge.
Portals is many things—wholesome, spiritual, spunky, celestial. I could see it being malleable to a lot of different types of tour packages—and playlists. Fleurie could just as soon be on the road with Twenty One Pilots as with M83, in support of this record. Portals is one of 2018’s dark horses and deservedly so.