True eclecticism is a rare commodity in pop music, outright weirdness a quality worth treasuring. On her genre-blurring third album, The House that Jack Built, Jesca Hoop digs deeper into her bag of sonic oddities and emerges with her most well-rounded effort to date. Though her criminally overlooked sophomore effort, Hunting My Dress, often recalled a witchier take on Feist’s aching indie-folk, The House that Jack Built feels like a universe unto itself. Opener “Born To” blends Renaissance Faire balladry and polished, surprisingly danceable rhythms, her operatic voice beaming over jangly mandolins and gurgling electronics — but the wide-ranging sounds are weaved together seamlessly, supporting a chorus hook that immediately burrows into your brain.
Hoop’s free-spirited approach is impressive, but she’s never showy — her eclecticism always enhances her craft. On the psychedelic throb of “Ode to Banksy,” dreamy acoustic ambience gives way to downright raunchy, Stones-ish distortion — and it sounds like a perfectly logical shift. But it’s a sign of Hoop’s prowess that her songs still resonate when stripped of quirkiness. On the minimal titular ballad, she bravely chronicles the anguished aftermath of her father’s death: “Five years of waiting for his life to end suddenly,” she sings over calming waves of electric tremolo, “tearing its way through me.” On an album defined by so many bold gestures, it’s a moment of stirring understatement.