Album Review: German record combines creepy themes, modern upbeat style

German singer Kim Petras (pictured above) released an album on Oct. 1. Petras is known for her upbeat pop music, but this album takes a twist on the usual happy sound (Courtesy of Creative Commons).

German popstar Kim Petras released a fitting soundtrack for this spooky season on Oct. 1 entitled Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1. This tightly-produced electro-pop mixtape features a collection of eight Halloween themed tracks that would fit in any Halloween party playlist.

The project opens with “o m e n,” a chilling, heavily instrumental track that sets the tone for the rest of the EP to follow. Like the rest of the mixtape, this song relies on an electronic sound and feels like it belongs in the soundtrack of a retro-horror video game or “The Twilight Zone.” The song transitions seamlessly to “Close Your Eyes,” which is easily the highlight of the album.

“Close Your Eyes” has all the makings of an EDM-pop hit, reminiscent of Lady Gaga during her Fame Monster era. The difference is that Lady Gaga sings for her “little monsters,” while Kim Petras personifies them. In this album specifically, Petras personifies a monstrous lover who does not let her partners survive an encounter with her. Petras’s impressive vocals feature heavily in this track, and it makes the listener wish that they were featured more heavily elsewhere in the EP.

The next song, “TRANSylvania” is an apt illustration of this flaw. It’s an instrumental, synth-heavy track that features some contagious beats and intriguing sounds but would certainly benefit from the singer’s vocals. This is also the case for the song “i don’t wanna die,” and the album’s closer “Boo! Bitch!” The atmosphere these instrumentals create still fits the theme of the project, but they would be more impactful had they actually featured Petras’s voice.

“Turn Off the Light” is another high mark for the EP. It’s a synth-heavy dance track where Petras, still acting as a monster, tries to seduce another victim. In addition to maintaining the mixtape’s monstrous theme, this song hits an atmospheric peak as it features Halloween icon Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. In a feature that recalls Vincent Price in “Thriller,” Elvira propagates the chilling atmosphere with lines like, “Only in the darkness will you find your true self/Howl at the moon to awaken the spell/One cannot judge what the eye cannot see/outside the realm of humanity.”

The other songs in the EP are more of the same: EDM inspired pop songs that give Petras a platform to show off her striking vocals. The most compelling parts of this project are when the singer experiments and shifts away from the fast-paced electronic minutiae that pervade the entire project. 

The beginning of “In the Next Life” showcases this concept by opening with theatric, angelic vocals that Petras told OUT Magazine were inspired by Freddie Mercury of Queen. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the album that quickly reverts back to a tone that mirrors the mixtape’s other songs.

Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1 is a fun Halloween-themed pop album that any spooky playlist curator should consider. Despite its strengths, the EP is overly saturated by electro sounds that may leave the listener craving a change of pace by its conclusion.