Best Albums of 2015: ‘Sprinter’ by Torres (No. 5)

Photo by Shawn Brackbill.

Photo by Shawn Brackbill.

Mackenzie Scott refers to the second Torres album as her “space cowboy” record. It’s an intriguing description, but it barely hints at the subtext: “Sprinter” is a cry of liberation, and also No. 5 on my list of the best albums of 2015. Scott spends these nine songs sifting through, and breaking free from, her conservative religious upbringing in Macon, Ga., filtering her experience through the sound of 1990s alt-rock and the literary influence of Ray Bradbury, Joan Didion and the 17th-century English poet John Donne.

She brings a full-bore intensity to her vocals, whether she’s singing in a foreboding murmur on “Son, You Are No Island” or glowering in deep, resonant tones as she tells someone, “What’s mine isn’t really yours/ But I hope you find what you’re looking for,” on album opener “Strange Hellos.” Scott maintains a riveting intensity throughout the album, and she never sounds less than wholly self-assured, as if “Sprinter” is merely the outward reflection of a woman who has taken the time to figure out exactly who she is, and what she’s about.

The musicians on the album include former PJ Harvey collaborators Rob Ellis and Ian Olliver, which is fitting: there’s a lot about Torres that is reminiscent of Harvey, not least the fearless way she brings her songs to life.

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