This is the Montreal-based producer’s fourth and most self-reflective record: it’s a document of her state of mind, of operating within the spheres of dance music and club culture. Drawing on those experiences, as well as an array of writers, thinkers and filmmakers who’ve influenced her, Davidson’s response to such difficult moments is to explore her own reaction to them and poke fun. “It comes from my brain, through my own experiences: the suffering and the humour, the fun and the darkness to be Marie Davidson.” It’s an honest document of where she currently stands. As she puts it, “It’s an egotistical album – and I’m okay with that.”
The sound of “Working Class Woman” is more direct than any of her previous outings. She still mines the same influences, from Italo Disco, to proto-industrial and electro, but leadens them with a gut-punching weight, making for a record that’s more visceral than any she’s released before. Industrial heaviness is balanced by Davidson’s spoken text – rather than spoken word, which she sees as a distinct tradition – dark, textured soundscapes are counterweighted by statements that carry a more darkly humourous edge than before, making observations on both aspects of club culture as well as more oblique critiques of the modern world. It’s something that’s encapsulated in the driving momentum of lead single So Right, released today alongside a remix from John Talabot: it matches pared back lyrics with a melodic bassline and bright synths, her words sketching out a euphoric feeling that chimes with the music.
A self-confessed ‘workaholic’, the record can also be seen as a response to touring, which has taken up the best part of her last year, and is something she’s found both enriching and draining. Both under her own name, and as Essaie Pas, her stops have included Sonar Festival – where she performed her “Bullshit Threshold” show, combining performance, spoken text, video projections and analogue hardware – Primavera, Dekmantel and MUTEK in recent times. On the one hand, her live set is a creative endeavour that feeds back into her music. Playing, and travelling, on her own – which means marshalling a table of gear including sequencers, synths and a mic for her to sing and talk into (as well as transporting them between each of her shows) – allows her to improvise and play each set in a different way to the last. But at the same time, it requires her to project a persona: a demand that can become dispiriting.
Part of her response to these difficult scenarios is to turn to writers whose work offers guidance or inspiration. Recently, this has meant the likes of psychologist Alice Miller, physician Gabor Maté and filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (in particular, his book Psychomagic). She’s always reached outward for the diverse influences that have informed her music, touching on big concepts and musical touchstones alike. But it’s with this release that she’s applied the same degree of focus to herself. The album is the product of a personal process: she looks inward to project a more expansive vision to the world.