Class Actress – Rapprocher

written by: November 16, 2011
Release Date: October 18th, 2011


Like fellow New Yorker, Lady something-or-other, Class Actress earned her salvation when she put down the guitar, upped the sexual factor in performance, and rode a wave of danceable electro. She then distinguished herself from contemporaries by straddling the border of chillwave and pop. Rapprocher is the arrival of a hopeful young star still discovering her voice and still vested too much in two separate worlds to rock one.

Class Actress began in fact as an L.A. Drama School dropout. Her name is Elizabeth Harper, and she is a melancholic. The big, icy electro-pop she exudes is a decided throwback to the 1980s—but a welcome one. Unlike many of her fellow artists that have adopted decades-old instrumentation, Harper doesn’t call attention to it.

No, Rapprocher is analog at its best—the imperfect tones, the organic craftsmanship (a la synth-guru Scott Rosenthal) and, of course, the datedness. It all adds a degree of authenticity and personality to an already graceful and curious voice. It sounds as if she’s singing what she wants—it just happens to be over 30-year-old disco. While a lot of the album appears in soft focus, it’s rarely the singing.

There’s a sharp clarity to Harper’s luxurious lilt, even in the dirtiest of moments.

“Hangin’ On” has the oscillating synth line of Neon Indian’s “Psychic Chasms.” Harper languishes in the seductive wordplay, gyrating over a four-on-the-floor groove. Lines such as, “God forbid an altercation/Making you regret/That nothing’s ever going to be the same,” (“All the Saints”) showcase her unique brand of submissive, confessional pop. The lyricism can be winding, if not a little bulky—but for the most part comes round. When it doesn’t though, it comes off cringingly contrived.

It’s hard to put the cutesiness of Rapprocher aside. Whether it’s blush-inducing lines such as, “You make me late for church,” (“Weekend”) the ardent coyness she embodies in show, or the corniness of her alias. Some would say kitsch—but like Madonna memorabilia in a Brooklyn studio, it’s willful. Harper has an aloof, playful pride that shines through this collection, manifested mostly in lovesickness.

What’s missing from this portrait is the heroine. When Rapprocher flies, it soars; its peaks put better albums of the like to shame, but for every high it wallows too often in unphenomenality. Harper is the hopeless romantic; she has the temptress down-pat. What she needs is the presence, both on record and in show. She needs to own it, then maybe the disparate cries of “legend” might gain some weight.

Class Actress – Rapprocher tracklist:

  1. “Keep You”
  2. “Love Me Like You Used To”
  3. “Weekend”
  4. “Prove Me Wrong”
  5. “Need to Know”
  6. “Limosine”
  7. “All the Saints”
  8. “Bienvenue”
  9. “Missed”
  10. “Hangin’ On”
  11. “Let Me In”