The new LP from bright and bookish producer Maria Minerva
(AKA Maria Juur), Will Happiness Find Me?
is a surprising mosaic of deeply pained electronics paired with intense techniques, and a pop sensibility. This bleary emotional intersection transforms this would-be satellite singer into a haunted siren from Mars.
Maria Juur’s experimental spirit enlivens the EDM realm. On this album, the Estonian-born, UK-educated vocalist explores how access to infinite sound is as overwhelming and alienating for the modern artist as hyper-connectivity is for the modern person. Juur sounds as glib and gone as Deborah Harry when she sings lines like, “boy, you drive me up the wall” (“Sweet Synergy”) and “my heart is like an open door/ just walk in” (“Heart Like a Microphone”). But if Juur held her own heart of glass up to the laptop’s light, she would be the first to say that it’s half empty.
She conveys this isolation by obfuscating her vocals with heavier sounds. Over the seven minutes of “Never Give Up”, Juur rapidly evades happiness by slipping under some sonic shade. Other times, her mantric tones are washed out by the Maharishi himself (“The Sound”). “Mad Girl’s Love Song” borrows its title from the patron saint of parenthetical emotion, Sylvia Plath. Zealously looped rhythms mirror the villanelle’s inescapability, a trait that Juur underlines in her interpretation of Plath’s sense of loss.
All of these concepts culminate on “The Star”, in which Juur ends the album with an unexpected sample of another mad girl love song: “Mr. Sandman”. The Chordettes, like Plath, represent visions and sounds of a time when female artists struggled for access to the art world. When Juur juxtaposes these works, their similarities are shockingly obvious. Lilting refrains cushion the way these artists wished upon imaginary stars. With her dry groans writhing around the pristine barbershop vocals, Juur inserts herself into this history, and the song sounds eerier than ever.
So, she hollowly asks: Will Happiness Find Me? The title comes from the parenthetical of the incandescent “I Don’t Want to Be Discovered (Will Happiness Find Me)”, where Juur’s careless whisper is blurred by a jaunty folk instrumental. The song’s subtle destruction implies that, despite having one’s toots and beeps in a row, the dance floor of the mind is still the loneliest place on earth. As the ultimate dance floor dreamer, George Michael once prophesized: there’s no comfort in the truth. Pain is all Juur finds.
Essential Tracks: “The Star”, “I Don’t Want To Be Discovered (Will Happiness Find Me)”