Any Shape You Take, the sophomore album by Indigo De Souza, lives up to the generous acceptance of its title. While grounded in R&B-based pop music, De Souza lets her musical muse wander widely. She doesn’t quite reach the wild epiphanies of reinvention of Bartees Strange, but the ballpark sounds familiar.
The album opens with the delicate, warping pop song “17,” De Souza’s vocals taken through digital manipulation like they’re a washrag being wrung out. The technique could be mere fussiness, except it serves to accentuate the emotional tension of the repeated lyrics “Now that the baby’s gone/ Now that the baby’s gone/ This is the way I’m going to bend/ This is the way I’m going to bend.” The tracks is enveloping, somehow promising mystery and openness at the same time. Listening to it is like surfing brainwaves.
“Die/Cry” is like Jay Som or some other current practitioners of beautifully offhand indie pop, and “Pretty Pictures” offers dance music spiked with a tongue-tingling narcotic. Sometimes De Souza does her roaming in the space of a single track. “Real Pain” starts off with a bittersweet burble right out of Death Cab for Cutie’s Photo Album before convulsing into a messy, overlapping soundscape and then cloud-breaking into an Anna Burch–style romp for its final minute or so. It’s dizzying, audacious, and a pure delight.
De Souza achieves that rarest and most important of feats on the album. The material ranges freely while always sounding like — maybe feeling like is the better way to put it — it all comes from the same artist. “Hold U” is delicious soft disco that could rouse the professional jealousy of the Haim sisters, and “Kill Me” is a pop blast in search of an arena to fill with its propulsive assurance. It’s no wonder De Souza is accommodating to any shape. In her rendering, they’re all splendid.