Fresh off a European tour, Australian-born Hein Cooper has released his second album Underneath It All. It’s a step above his previous endeavours, moving away from a dreamy acoustic landscape to an explosion of varied sounds and emotions.
The album opens abruptly. With ‘Hijack’, we immediately know what to expect from the record – smooth vocals and dreamy hypnotic electronics. An accompanying video captures the feelings of this song perfectly. Starring Hein’s girlfriend and shot in Montreal, it’s a dark distorted piece of art. Through dim lighting and red and blue hues, the underlying eeriness of the song is amplified. What starts as a sinister, unclear female figure at the beginning of the video ends up bringing a calming light to the anguished Hein Cooper. Both song and video portray the idea of the fear. The fear that something is bad for you, only to discover that it was exactly what you needed at the time.
The album moves from this to a beautiful acoustic-based pop song ‘Hear My Voice’. This song began as a poem and you can still feel that origin on the track. It’s a song about losing yourself in a world of fakeness and lies. He calls for the listeners to hear his voice and come back to into their true selves. Above all, it’s a call to be honest about who you are and allow your emotions to be on show. Throughout the song, Hein Cooper realises that he has to do the same thing.
Despite the electronic nature of the album, Hein’s acoustic roots are still visible. Not just in songs like ‘Over Again’ and ‘Peculiar’, but in the big sound indie-pop songs too. It’s scattered with tender moments and goosebump-inducing vocals. ‘Underneath It All’ ends on a slow mournful note, Cooper looking back over his journey, leaving a feeling of uncertainty.
Throughout the whole album Hein Cooper is searching for connections, showing a need to understand himself. Using haunting ebbs and flows, and genre switching, he seems to be trying to grasp onto something solid, whether what he finds is good or bad. He just wants to feel some solid ground. Cooper wrote this record on the road, and has spent years constantly touring, so you can see why. Going from house to house and couch to couch, with nothing solid under his feet. Considering there’s nothing but further touring in his future (including a stint supporting James Morrison) it doesn’t look like he’s going to find that solid ground anytime soon.