Album Review: Anastasia Elliot – La Petite Mort

Anastasia Elliot showcases the haunting and captivating allure of her incredible sound on her long-awaited debut album

The road towards releasing Anastasia Elliot’s debut album La Petite Mort has not been a straightforward one, with the artist facing a tonne of roadblocks and adversity in over thirteen years of its creation. These hurdles have ranged from freak allergic reactions that have caused imposed periods of silence to regime changes at record labels that have resulted in the artist going independent, but the artist has persevered in the face of all of this to bring her creative vision to life as an independent DIY artist.

The album opens with the stirring ‘Cigarettes & Gasoline’, a track that was initially released as a single back in 2019, and holds the same level of gravity and allure today. The empowering nature of her vocals and the all-encompassing weight of the soundscape feels grand and emphatic while having this haunting undercurrent that leads to endless levels of intrigue, intoxicating in its charm. The first thing that hits you about the album is how full and dynamic it feels, with Anastasia priding herself on her ability to stretch the tiniest of budgets to provide you with a multi-faceted and imposing force that feels like it has huge backing. The musical side is just one aspect of this, but it comes across here in alarming and vibrant fashion.

A major theme of the album is one of rebirth, of rising from the darkness and the circumstances of your past to transform into something inspiring and more powerful than ever, and this comes across effortlessly on second track ‘Crash Landing’. There is a theatrical flair to the sound and its atmospheric appeal, and its unconventional structure gives it a captivating, unpredictable edge that feels as exciting as it is melodic. Anastasia Elliot is a master of creating sounds that completely dominate the space they’re in, and this track grips you with everything from its initial balladry to the goliath that it mutates into.

Things slow down a little bit on ‘London’ and Anastasia gets to showcase the engrossing range of her vocals and commanding presence. Whether the tracks feel crushingly heavy in their approach or more cerebral and slow-burning, there is something haunting and magnetic about the artist and her style that you can’t seem to pull yourself away from. A thoughtful narrative surrounding deja vu and past lives compounds a stellar track that, as everything else on the album, has tonnes to pick apart and find yourself coming back to.

‘Masquerade’ delves into almost heavy metal territory instrumentally at times, again luring you in with a deft softness that gives way to a sound that gives way to groove-laden alternative rock characterised by its raucous guitars and pounding rhythms. This is an upbeat, anthemic track that feels destined to make people move, with that underlying, unsettling sense of darkness still bubbling beneath the surface.

The artist makes another razor sharp sonic shift on ‘Bones’, a more conventional, pop-flavoured track that showcases the artist at her most agreeable, with the track the closest thing to a soaring, singalong anthem on the album. The remarkable thing about this LP is the way that each track feels entirely different and at times feature completely contrasting sounds when compared to each other, but there is that Anastasia Elliot DNA that runs through everything and keeps things feeling connected and cohesive. ‘La Petite Mort’ is wildly ambitious and daring, but everything feels purposeful, and like its roots all come from a connected and very deliberate place.

‘C’est La Vie’ serves as a moment of poignant reflection on the album, encapsulating themes of liberation and love as the artist looks to her past and her future and attempts to come to terms with her reality. Even a narrative like this and the more delicate nature of its instrumental still has moments where it threatens to descend into a chaos of sights and sounds thanks to the artist’s incredible, haunting production, but the track resists the temptation to completely give into her more raucous urges and this contrast of light and dark makes for compelling listening.

The title track serves as an intense and sludgy interlude that feels atmospheric and disconcerting. Such interludes are usually used to relieve the tension and serve as something of a palette cleaners halfway through an album, but this seems to want to do the opposite, upping the stakes and creating a palpable sense of tension that again, you can’t seem to pull yourself away from. The grimy and horrible nature of the sound will most likely make you feel like you need a wash afterwards.

This sets the tone perfectly however for ‘In The Dark’, a track that moves at a more deliberate, slithering pace and goes all in one some of the more haunting aspects of the artist’s sound. Something that is commendable about this album is its choruses, something perfectly exemplified on this track. They somehow hold this impossible middle ground between this creeping darkness and weirdness of the artist’s work while feeling irresistibly catchy and melodic. Anastasia Elliot has a sound that feels completely and entirely her own, packed full of nuance and darkness while bursting into life with these huge moments of catharsis and bliss.

A track that this also applies to is ‘Lions Den’, a track with a stadium ready chorus and yet more of this underlying tension and intrigue. The artist’s most experimental vocal tendencies adorn the track with something of a rallying cry that feels both haunting and memorable, and the track’s unrivalled sense of energy and guile makes for a typically fun journey that packs an empowering edge.

The waltzy ‘Crimson & Violet’ follows and brings a lyrical intensity that belies the grandiose allure of the sound. The pulsating nature of the rhythm section here provides a real sense of bite throughout, providing the track with a fierce heartbeat to accompany a narrative surrounding a consuming and fatal attraction. Again, Anastasia’s vocals shine here, and the personality and charisma that she pours into them has you believing every startling word that she ways.

With a punchy, bombastic flair and intoxicatingly fun catchiness, ‘BLEACH’ is a track that feels akin to ‘Bones’ in its melding of the melodic and the offbeat, continuing to highlight the creative ways that the artist floods her sound with both style and substance, making for another highlight in terms of the album’s more accessible moments.

The album’s penultimate track, ‘If And When’ is a haunting (yeah, that word comes up a lot) piano ballad that melds a macabre sound with moments of soaring emotion. again feeling like a track that contrasts the light and the dark to create something that feels rousing and inspiring. On an album that tackles heartbreaks, set-backs and ultimately a grand resurrection, this track feels like the calm before the storm of its emotional climax, setting the tone gorgeously before giving way to more unsettling sounds as it edges towards its conclusion.

This comes in the form of ‘GOOD’, a track that forgoes a lot of the creative complexities and electronic oddities to craft something that burns with a real sense of authenticity and heart. The stripped-back nature of the sound and the artist’s thoughtful lyrics make for a track that feels endlessly stirring and endearing. ‘GOOD’ feels like a summation of all of the themes of the album, with the artist, now resurrected and reborn looking back over her journey and everything that has happened along the way. On an album that is packed full of chaos and the artist’s mind-blowing uniqueness and flair, this track feels equally powerful just due to the contrast that it creates, solidifying the artist’s place as an unparalleled, unrivalled talent when it comes to making a sound that feels entirely her own wherever she decides to take it.

‘La Petite Mort’ is a masterpiece, a triumphant tale of struggle, sacrifice, hardship, and the way that it has allowed the artist to transform into something more creative, more resilient, and more all-encompassing than ever. A lot has been made of the way that the artist lost the backing of her label and had to do things her own way, but this has allowed for a flourishing sound that feels quintessentially Anastasia Elliot, with her distinctive fingerprints all over every facet of the sound, every quirk and stylistic left-turn. A lot of the track’s here have been released as singles and come with similarly striking and memorable music videos that are well worth checking out, and Anastasia Elliot’s range of talents and raw, unfiltered appeal shines through those just as much as through her incredible sound.