Alexandria Maillot opens a new chapter in her remarkable artistic career (that started at only the age of seven) with her album Benevolence. A well-known artist in the Vancouver music scene, she moved back to Vancouver Island in 2017, far from the overwhelming nature of the city. Music “naturally returned” to her as she expresses in a quote on her website, and the album is excellent evidence of that. Benevolence is a refreshing take on alt-rock and indie-pop, blending the styles together and creating a unique and comforting sound.
The seven songs would not be as impressive without Maillot’s soothing and gritted vocals that carry the tracks through a journey of moods, from grief to fearlessness and acceptance. Her voice starts calm and delicate in the opening track, “I Never Liked Your Friends,” matching the floaty melody in the background, and gradually intensifies with the lyrics: “How could you think this would end well? / I’ve been through hell.” Maillot’s vocals are at their best when they are at their most expressive, like in the emotive single “Messed It Up.”
Instrumentally, Benevolence does not fall behind. Every song offers listeners something distinct, showing another side of the emotion Maillot attempts to convey. The strings are a standout feature — the light plucking in the background of “The Judge” (and many others) complements the vocals and synth perfectly, becoming a recognizable and distinctive element throughout the album. A track worthy of mention is “Someone to Keep You Warm.” It takes an unexpected turn at the chorus with a bass drop — surprising for the record, but an effective fit to the intriguing atmosphere of the song.
With a thematic focus on making life decisions and reflecting on choices and relationships, Benevolence feels intimate and honest. The lyrics reveal hard times in specific situations — in “Lose My Mind,” Maillot explores the struggle of chasing a dream while having unrelated jobs and the commitment necessary to achieve it, which is propelled by determined vocals.
Benevolence is a solid release, with wonderful instrumentation and vocals that guide the listener through a variety of emotions, making it well worth repeated listens.