The black-and-white image of a pyramid on the cover of Conversations tells you almost everything you need to know about Woman’s Hour’s music. The London-based four-piece’s world is one of jagged emotions, explored through even-keeled grayscale pop.
Featuring silky synths, reverb-filled guitar lines and gentle crescendos, Conversations is a musical meditation on a theme that’s teased out across 10 languorous tracks. Potential weariness caused by the band’s ultra-polite tonal choices is averted by the frontwoman Fiona Jane Burgess’s presence. With her heavily accented soprano warble, she brings a sense of humanity to the monolithic instrumental soundscapes. It’s the warmth in her untrained vocals that sells the vulnerability behind Conversations dark lyrical themes — chief among them, bitterness, rejection, awkwardness and fear. “I learned to let go of all the things I thought we had,” she sings on the album’s haunting centerpiece “Her Ghost,” her fragility a stark contrast to the track’s light dusting of drum machines and silvery keys. Sure, the album is only the beginning of a conversation that will likely have to be fleshed out in feature releases. When listening to the mid-tempo closing track “The Day That Needs Defending,” it’s easy to wonder what would happen if Woman’s Hour’s whisper escalated to an all-out scream. But for now, the murmured exchange sounds near perfect.