Agnes Obel’s Haunting Chamber Pop

Her beautiful new album is likely to soothe the dark night of the soul.

Alex Bruel Flagstad


 Agnes Obel
Citizen of Glass
Play it Again Sam

Agnes Obel’s music would be the perfect soundtrack for a scary movie, but not a brutish modern one—her haunting chamber pop belongs in the world of old-fashioned spooky films like the 1940s classics “Cat People” and “The Uninvited.” (David Lynch is reportedly a fan, which makes sense.) Citizen of Glass, the Danish singer’s wonderfully transfixing third outing, weaves old and new instruments, including strings, piano, mellotron and the Trautonium, an early 20th-century ancestor of the synthesizer, into a luminous backdrop for her eerily composed vocals. Poised and uneasy at once, Obel seems to be revisiting episodes of extreme distress from a distance, as if seeking to dull the trauma through calm reflection. As she declares in “It’s Happening Again,” “The past isn’t dead/It’s alive, it’s happening/In the back of my head.” The result is a beautiful album likely to soothe the dark night of the soul, or induce an anxiety attack.