For those not familiar with the work of Emilie Autumn, she is a world-class violinist, poet and singer songwriter with the look of a Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland. Famously bipolar, her music and lyrics are renowned for their darkness and melancholy. Although she has been compared with the likes of Nightiwsh, Within Temptation, even Lady Gaga, her brand of theatrical ‘VictorianandIndustrial’ music is distinctly unique.
This new 17-track album, Fight Like A Girl, is dedicated to mental illness, a well-covered topic for the artist who attempted suicide in 2005 and was committed to a psychiatric ward. Here she wrote the book, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. The record is the soundtrack for a West End musical based on this book, that she intends to premier next year.
My first impression of the album is that it is exactly what she intended, mad. Emilie takes the listener on a journey through insanity and the abuse of women incarcerated in an asylum. The narrative unfolds with complex and emotive lyrics paired with Emilie’s signature violin-rock melodies and the sinister story is equally as menacing in the form of faced-paced musical theatre ditties like Girls, Girls, Girls and Take the Pill.
One of the frustrating things about the record was that, as with most soundtracks, it made me want to see the theatrics and drama that go with the music. Emilie Autumn is famous for her live shows, crammed with burlesque, prison bars, cupcakes and teddy bears, and a piece of musical theatre designed by her should be quite a spectacle. On the album, Emilie sings all the character parts and while this will please fans, for the actual show the involvement of other vocalists would be important to hold the interest of the audience.
For hardcore Emilie Autumn fans then, this record should go down well. It is a departure from her previous work, with slightly less emphasis on her legendary violin riffs. But her lyrics are as twisted as ever and the entire album feels like a descent into madness. If managed properly, there is true potential for this show to be successful on the West End, although strangers to the artist could be taken aback by her entry into the pop-saturated industry.