RADMON ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: Story's Start or End by Safia
Written by Rachael Esler
here’s a different kind of glow / it just radiates the things we choose to know
'White Lies' – Safia (Story’s Start or End, 2019)
Safia produced an absolute supermodel of an album with their 2019 release, Story’s Start or End.
When an LP so consistently takes my breath away with every spin, I never know where to begin. Do I express my fondness for the atmospheric fusion of electronica, indie, and pop that transcends black-and-white classification? Do I describe Ben Woolner, Safia vocalist/producer, and his dulcet vocal range that whisks the listener off to another world? Or do I write about the immense musical diversity and the range of moods and stories in the songs? None of these musings even scratch the surface of Story’s Start or End.
The album begins with introductory track 'Ivory Lullaby', which builds into an almost-dancey beat whose tonal softness belies its vocal intensity. After 'Starlight' — an archetypically Safia-esque
track that showcases the band at its finest — listeners are surprised with a primal beat that shifts gear in a haunting way. It is a prime example of Safia’s ability to subvert expectations,
retaining their captivating sound while exploring new territory yet pulling it off with such poise. The listener is exposed to this phenomenon even in just the first three tracks.
Story’s Start or End boasts complicated love songs, songs personifying internal struggles, songs that evoke LSD-esque landscapes, songs of a longing so visceral it transcends classification as human. Each of these is crafted with such care and attention to detail that can be appreciated even by those who might not be fans of alternative music.
What amazes me about this band is that this granularity isn’t limited to their recordings; their sound becomes even more expansive in their live shows. If you ever get the privilege of immersing yourself in a Safia gig, you’re in for a good boogie, sure, but also be prepared for waves of sentimentality and even sensuality thrown in the mix.
When an LP so consistently takes my breath away, I can barely bring myself to stop raving about it. Albums like this – the ones that I put on a pedestal in such a reverent manner, then play on an ungodly infinite loop to drown out my everyday life – are hard to come by. What else is there to do but give it a listen yourself?