Skip to main content
  • Genre:

    Electronic / Pop/R&B

  • Label:


  • Reviewed:

    January 4, 2024

On its second album, the Australian group strips its melancholy electronic pop down to a whisper, nodding simultaneously to 1980s ennui and 2020s anxiety.

Acopia’s melancholy electronic pop is homespun, but it sounds luxurious. Melbourne musicians Kate Durman, Morgan Wright, and Lachlan McGeehan are all pedigreed electronic producers in their own right; their work in this band is minimalist but purposeful, prizing drive and atmosphere even when the music is at its sparsest. A solitary horn pierces the electronic gloom on “We Evolve,” the opener of their self-titled second album, and it evokes the image of vocalist Durman as the dame in a film noir, looking out onto a rainy street for some shred of hope amid the gloom.

Acopia specialize in songs about loneliness and isolation. Throughout, Durman sings as if she were a ghost wandering among the living, her quiet, breathy voice often lying like a layer of mist between ominous post-punk guitars and icy programmed drums. “Acopia” is a medical term describing an inability to cope with daily life, and the lyrics here live up to that moniker. On “Be Enough,” Durman drifts through a party scene, her lyrics an endless stream of unanswered questions and pregnant pauses; on “Eyes Shut,” dissociation “feels like a drug” amid emotional strife. This is pop music for absentee friends and serial ghosters, where the lines, “I take you for granted/It’s just what I do, ooh” ring out like a singalong chorus.

Although that may sound ponderous on paper, Acopia is charged with tension. The band builds on its 2022 debut, Chances, a record of catchy, fragile songs set to altogether bolder and more forceful production, by making everything a little more muted. Acopia are one of a handful of groups in Melbourne that clearly worships at the altar of HTRK, a band that looms large in Australia’s experimental scene; on this record, Acopia smartly follow their lead in stripping their sound down to a whisper. This subtler palette yields a record that’s more dynamic than Chances. “Eyes Shut,” the album’s centerpiece, breaks through the fugue state like a battering ram. Powered by unrelenting sub-bass and McGeehan’s thundering drumming, it feels like the onset of the anxiety attack that’s been slowly building over the course of the record, a slow suffocation.

Acopia are hardly alone in specializing in feel-bad electronic pop, but they do feel especially 2020s in their outlook. Durman seemingly has every possible ultra-therapized line in her arsenal—“I need to zoom out,” “Maybe we could take it at my own pace,” “What is your intention?”—and still seems to feel totally horrible. Although songs like “Holding On” and “Intentions,” which recall classic 4AD bands, nod to romantic melodrama, their lyrical concerns are wan and banal: missed connections, miscommunications, listless interactions. Set against the band’s rich, nervy environments, this glazed-over, alienated tone makes for a record that’s both intimate and intense, dazed and direct—hardly a cure for modernity, but something that makes it easier to cope all the same.