AURORA Takes Us on a Tragically Beautiful Journey to Face Our Demons
Victoria Freitas, Staff Writer
Though the album “Infections of a Different Kind – Step I” wasn’t released in 2020, the message is relevant two years later more than ever. Amidst the uncertain future due to the pandemic and population resorting to quarantine and social distancing, the circumstances forced us into a period of self-reflection. We are discovering what it means to be human and how crucial embracing our emotions is for humanity’s future.
In an interview for NME in 2018, Aurora described the album as a step towards becoming a warrior of the 21st century. “I think that we are meant to really fight for each other, but I think [being numb to our emotions] prevents us having the capacity to see other people when we’re in pain. First you accept that life comes with pain, then you really work on it.”
Aurora Aksnes, a 24-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter, blew her home country and the music blog community away when she released her first album in 2016, “All of My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend.” She provided a backing track, cover of “Half the World Away” by Oasis, for an English television advertisement campaign, which gained her recognition throughout Europe. Her international approach was participating in the song “Into the Unknown” from the movie Frozen II, which she performed alongside Idina Menzel at the 2020 Oscars Academy Awards.
Some fans describe her music as the unspeakable served through an angelic voice. Others describe as a quirky nature goddess ringing the bells of truth through her unique choice of melody. All agree, however, that Aurora doesn’t bind herself to the norms imposed on her. She is a free-spirited young woman, and that freedom reflects on her music and lyrics.
Aurora and her band managed to craft an innovating melody, a tribal and medieval approach that they infuse with today’s mainstream music elements. They skillfully harmonize using mainly their voices. Their use of drums stands out more than chords, but when they do acoustics, Aurora releases her deepest emotions more unreservedly. There is a reason why her listeners often describe experiencing Aurora’s music as finding themselves in a celestial realm.
The album “Infections of a Different Kind – Step I” has eight tracks: Queendom, Forgotten Love, Gentle Earthquakes, All Is Soft Inside, It Happened Quiet, Churchyard, Soft Universe, and Infections of a Different Kind.
All of which, according to Aurora, tell a story individually. But she doesn’t let her perspective impede listeners from connecting dots in between harmonies and message. During the aforementioned interview, Aurora said, “They can mean quite many things. For me, it changes all the time – what I get out of the songs. But it is very much about accepting that you can be a warrior even though the world might put a box around you, which is [not labeled as] the alpha.”
For instance, I think the album’s structure is phenomenal as a narrative, serving a story fitting for any human walking through life while perceiving it as a journey. You are bound to have obstacles; they will teach you to recognize that we all feel pain. How you deal with pain is what Aurora tries to teach us. We must go through every emotion. It won’t do you any good deeming emotions such as anger and sadness insignificant or invalid because you are human.
The first track, “Queendom,” serves as an anthem, promoting coming together to build a home for all. The second track, “Forgotten Love,” is about learning to appreciate the beautiful memories that belong to a time of pain but remind yourself to let it go. Carrying the weight of such pain won’t bring anything but regression. The third track, “Gentle Earthquakes,” depicts a story of someone who finally felt free again. The lyrics “Can’t stay here, I throw myself in the ocean, I lift myself and run” feels like a person preparing themselves to flee or fight back, looking into the abyss of uncertainty, but jumping anyway if it means freedom.
The chorus is as if I am running through the woods after escaping darkness and pain, the adrenaline and relief of being alive and well – the world is still real outside the walls, and I get to experience it. It resonated even more profoundly during the pandemic. Loneliness felt staggering to those not used to it. We must always look outside and remind ourselves we still belong to this vast world. This line of thought continues in the fourth track, “All Is Soft Inside.”
There is a fear of losing perspective of who you are throughout the song, “I was rose, I was an animal. Don’t let me change, don’t let me go.” During these times, it is easy to feel disheartened because of the pandemic’s sudden interruption. But Aurora encourages us to find strength in one another, “We can save what is pure if our hearts collide.”
I feel that “It Happened Quiet” and “Churchyard” are the most powerful tracks. I’ve never experienced songs that channeled the need for revenge so perfectly. Aurora encapsulated angelic rage in the fifth track, “Don’t you speak over my voice, I will return from the shadows.” She maintained a haunting feeling in the sixth track, “I will not remember you as someone nice. Will you please remember me and cry?” But added liberating words that resemble a battle cry towards the end – the victim is finally free after confronting whoever hurt them.
The last tracks, “Soft Universe” and “Infections of a Different Kind,” don’t bring the journey to an end. They warrant self-reflection before we continue to walk our paths. It leads the listener to their final trial as warriors of light. The seventh track focuses on love as a driving force towards creating a better world, to learn to love and value yourself; to not let loneliness create a self-destructive pattern within you.
The last track, according to Aurora, was the one that gave birth to the entire album. The melody mixes all of every song’s elements in the album, as though we are in a fog confronting every pain we ever felt. But you go through it still standing, knowing another step of your life waits for you once you connect with your emotions fully.