In Review: Billie Marten - Floral Fauna

Five years on from the release of her debut album, ‘Writing Of Blues And Yellows’, Billie Marte returns with her third album ‘Flora Fauna’. It is apparent from the get-go that Flora Fauna takes a step away from the sounds of Marten’s older work, something which she credits to her purchase of a bass guitar. This led her to boldly abandon her softer, mellower and more tentative acoustic tendencies for the most part, opting for more mature and augmented soundscapes.

Marten resolved to adopt bass as her new instrument of choice, and this is most evident on the third track of the album ‘Human Replacement’, which is driven by a sharp and grooving bassline. To compliment this change in sound, Marten has also adopted a new vocal style, characterised by a darker and partially whispered tone with a hypnotic and enticing edge, somewhat comparable to the current frontrunner of alternative-pop Billie Eilish.

The addition of bass isn’t Marten’s only instrumental experimentation on ‘Flora Fauna’. ‘Kill The Clown’ begins with the simple strumming of the humble acoustic guitar, but as the song progresses to the chorus, the instrumental is dominated by piercing and resonant strings. Whereas, on the bridge, the instrumental of the song falls away entirely, suddenly stripping away the layers until only Marten’s refreshingly confident and assured vocals remain.

Elsewhere on the track-list, ‘Liquid Love’ is a highlight, with its mesmerising and peace-inducing humming vocals and gentle acoustic guitar plucking throughout. The track, which Marten claims was impressively finished in just one afternoon, saw her utilising a Yamaha sampling keyboard to experiment with vocal-looping techniques before adding additional keys, a drum machine and a live kit – techniques which were entirely unfamiliar to her beforehand.

The opening track and lead single of the album ‘Garden Of Eden’ progresses from percussion-driven verses to a soaring chorus with dreamy and wistful vocals. This stark contrast establishes the song as a tale of journey and growth, striking comparison between the mutual need of all lifeforms, humans and plants alike, for warmth and light in order to grow, develop and flourish. These lyrical themes, alongside the album title, reveal immediately that the natural world is a key overarching theme of ‘Flora Fauna’.

‘Creature of Mine’ continues the album’s focus on the topics of life and nature, exploring the cyclical nature of life as Marten softly croons “Before we die, we’re living right”. The song is set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, where Marten establishes a storyline in which you must pick only one person to leave Earth with. This alternative realm serves as a metaphor to represent the common feeling of needing to momentarily leave Earth when life becomes too much to handle.

Ultimately, ‘Flora Fauna’ sees Billie Marten sounding more confident in her craft than ever before. The album demonstrates her fearlessness when modifying her simplistic acoustic sound by experimenting with new instruments, new techniques, and new sounds, to produce a more intricate and layered instrumental backing over which her vocals can flourish. She achieves this without losing any aspects of herself as both a person and a creator, maintaining her natural purity and youthful charm whilst maturing, developing and growing as an artist.