Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth by over 3,000m. As a rule, mountains only usually erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions and glaciers; not so much by human intervention. It's just as well then the Brisbane songstress Tara Simmons isn't attempting to do so, choosing to take the much more intimate route of releasing her sophomore album, It's Not Like We're Trying To Move Mountains instead.

Simmons, a multi instrumentalist who honed her classical training with production and songwriting techniques at Queensland Institute Of Technology, has been kicking around the Brisbane music scene since 2006, releasing several self-funded EPs, as well as her debut LP Split Milk in 2009. 2012 sees Simmons tour as the female vocalist for electro pop duo YesYou, as well as following up her solo efforts with ...Mountains, an album that strays away aesthetically from the sample-driven folk-pop that permeates her earlier work. Instead, Simmons decisively chose to redefine her sound, taking cues from the esoteric world of Scandinavian pop, and seeking inspiration from its powerful female performers such as Robyn, Lykke Li and El Perro Del Mar.

Recorded earlier this year in Brisbane, under the guidance of Brisbane producer Yanto Browning (The Medics, The Jungle Giants, Kate Miller-Heidke, Art of Sleeping) ...Mountains is Simmons' most ambitious work to date. The album as a whole is an emotive, personal affair that taps into an honest reservoir of experience, observation and reflection, whilst aurally soaring into the stratosphere on wave after wave of synth driven pulses. Think Chairlift meets Lykke Li.

Most recent single 'Weekend Of Hearts' opens up ...Mountains, and it is definitely the defining song of the album. 'Weekend Of Hearts' showcases a synergy of throbbing synths, ethereal melodies and personable lyrics, co-written with Hungary Kids Of Hungary songsman Dean McGrath. This is a perfect example of dark pop at its best; think of a female version of M83. And if you like the sound of that, then just wait until the last minute of the song where Simmons kicks it up another notch, ending the song with a vocal performance like that of an 80s diva. A wicked tune.

'Where Do You Go' is a track that muses on the feeling of hesitant anticipation of never knowing when you'll run into a former lover in the street. The stylistic influences of Lykke Li are very prevalent here: drawn out vocals overlay glitchy drum loops, with the result being the steady heartbeat of drums, a rhythm that will work its way inside your mind and proceed to lift your mood.

'Be Gone' is a track that highlights the futile efforts of trying to help another get through a painful situation when they have no desire to help themselves, a theme many can probably relate to. 'Be Gone' attempts to purge these people who feed off your emotions with a steady barrage of handclaps, tribal drum work and vocals highlighted with tinges of reverberation. Like an exorcism of an emotional succubus, 'Be Gone' is a liberating listening experience.

'Honey' strips back the production values and presents itself as an honest and raw musing on the fallibility of intimate relationships. Where the song starts off minimal and sparse, it quickly builds into a haunting resonance of an ending through the nifty process of Simmons and Browning recording the vocals through the piano itself and sending it through an analog tape delay, amongst others tricks. This is the type of audio ingenuity that I imagine MacGyver may have come up with, had he been producing the track.

Other tracks to keep an ear out for are 'End of May', with its Bertie Blackman meets Sally Seltmann type of vibe, as well as 'We're All Scared', which is a meditation on the layers of personality that people use as shields from the world seeing what’s really underneath. Simmons uses this track to communicate that although the surface may appear different, underneath we're all just the same.

It's Not Like We're Trying To Move Mountains is a slow burner of a record; every time i re-listen to it, the album grows on me, and I notice subtle nuances and layers that I hadn't prior. Tara Simmons has produced a fine album that showcases her broad base of sound and style, combined with an authentic attitude.
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