If you had ever listened to Bertie Blackman before, there were never any doubts as to the quality of her next album, it was more a question of what mind state will come through. ‘Pope Innocent X’ manages to showcase the many personalities of Bertie Blackman and is really a captivating 40 minute musical glide through Bertie Blackman’s quirky imagination.
By far her most personal album to date, the first Bertie Blackman you encounter on the album in ‘Tremors’ is the classic Bertie Blackman of albums past, intense, eerie, but yet so delicate and fragile. ‘Tremors’ was perhaps the embrace of the “sense of loneliness” that Bertie holds dear, and the outline for the imaginative journey that ‘Pope Innocent X’ was about to provide.
Second track ‘Mercy Killer’ is the first insight into the creative world of Bertie Blackman. A fun upbeat pop track, ‘Mercy Killer’ manages to encapsulate the joys of imagination whilst similarly acknowledging the harsh realities of real life. It is also perhaps our favourite song from the album, and an appropriate choice for debut single.
By the time we reach ‘Growl’ the imagination of Bertie Blackman has truly been uncaged, experimenting with horns, growls and tormenting synths that push your listening to the brink. These mid-album tracks are the most raw and original with ‘Boy’, ‘Accordion Boat’ and ‘Stella’ the perfect embodiment of joyful fantasies run wild.
However, all good things must come to an end and so begins the wind down of happiness with ‘Hide and Seek’ and ‘Shadow Chasers’. The bizarre bouncing brass section and synth scraping sounds on ‘Maps’ signals the final and frightening return of reality for Bertie Blackman.
Pope Innocent X closes with the slow and haunting ‘Mistakes’, a not so happy ending for a fantastical musical journey. If anything ‘Mistakes’ showcases the harsh reality of loneliness, that despite the fun of imagination, there is always an undercurrent of emptiness, and brings the album to an almost movie like close.
Bertie Blackman’s fourth album left Bertie herself proclaiming “I’m really proud about this piece of work”. And quite rightly too, as ‘Pope Innocent X’ managed to turn the intense influence of an introvert’s isolation into an outstanding musical journey through the psyche of a true artist.