Album Review: Ellis – ‘Born Again’

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On her debut album under the name Ellis, a play on her initials, Linnea Siggelkow is thoughtful and reflective. With lyrics that pour from her as if she were thinking out loud and sweeping, transient instrumentation, this debut serves as a strong introduction. Siggelkow was raised a devout Christian, but as so often happens, leaving home for college made that devotion more complicated. The record’s title, Born Again, alludes to this self-redefinition. Siggelkow spends much of the album’s runtime looking back on past actions, thinking about them and what she wants to change moving forward.

The album’s lead single is the moment that leans most heavily on the pop aspect of “dream pop.” “Fall Apart” is an instantly catchy apology. Siggelkow ends its chorus with the plea “I didn’t mean to fall apart,” followed by robust guitars fighting their way through sickly sweet synths. She knows she’s done wrong, but she’s trying—something anyone listening can relate to, perhaps letting them carry the sentiment with them the next time they try to improve.

“Shame” is perfect, showcasing just how much power Siggelkow can channel through confession. She’s singing directly to someone who hurt her and relaying the story back to us. While what happened hasn’t left her, it hints at the kind of relief that simply acknowledging pain can bring. Musically, it’s an absolute sledgehammer, with a chorus that hits out of nowhere and becomes all-consuming. The fuzzy guitars and gauzy synths act as a bandage on the underlying wounded nature of the song. 

Further calling out particular moments bothering Siggelkow, the fleeting “March 13” ruminates on the events of that very day in 2016. A lovely little piano number, Siggelkow’s airy voice makes the song feel effervescent. On paper, the lyrics read like a bit of poetry you might jot down while dealing with something you’ve done. It adds to the record’s conciliatory nature. 

Deep in the album’s Side B lies “Into The Trees.” The track is glorious and feels through-composed. Beginning as an ethereal incantation, it gradually builds into a shoegaze-inflected roar. It’s the kind of song you can’t turn away from once it hits its stride. Here, also, is the moment Siggelkow bellows, “I screamed into the darkness to see if you could hear it,” a line that feels like an acknowledgment of the expansive universe she builds around every minute of Born Again

Born Again is festooned with little touches, filling every up every corner with detail. And of course, it’s deeply worked-over. Nearly every track is built around a thought or feeling put forth to be reexamined. It’s this thoughtful nature that sets the record apart. By baring her soul, Siggelkow has created something as personal as it is transfixing.


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Eric Bennett // @seething_coast

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