If aliens ever invade Earth, they're going to use music to overthrow us. They won't use lasers or phasers or razors. They won't overwhelm us with technology, and they won't use their superior intellect to outwit us. In the end they'll take arguably our most universal language — music — and use it to make us submit to their will. And they'll likely use the hypnotic, eccentric sounds of Jesca Hoop's sophomore album, Hunting My Dress, to lead the charge. The moment we hear these songs blasting out of the futuristic speakers of UFOs we're going to be toast because we'll be enchanted by the quirky rhythms and sounds, the ethereal vocals and the lyrics that are playful one moment and deeply introspective the next. Mark my words: we'll be toast.



From the semi-acoustic shuffle of notes that open “Whispering Light” down to the Regina Spektor-like vocal dancing on “Four Dreams,” this album is one pleasant surprise after another. As the former track morphs from a simple guitar and drum song into something far moodier and alluring — just wait until Hoop gets going on the chorus — you will be sucked in by the track's off-kilter beauty. The latter is a playful ditty highlighting the obsession people have with music and their stereos, with sing-songy echoing vocals at the end of half the lyrics, making the track sound like it's being sung by exuberant schoolgirls playing pattycake or jumping rope in time to words.



Hoop walks and waltzes herself through a series of feelings and vocal hoops (forgive me) on the album. She is vulnerable and nostalgic on tracks like “Angel Mom” and “Murder of Birds,” but then controlling and in the moment on “Feast of the Heart” and “Whispering Light.” “Tulip” mostly showcases her ability to employ rich, low vocals in a steady tone, while “Four Dreams” has her hitting higher registers at a faster pace throughout. And whether singing gleefully about playing music on her stereo, or contemplating on “Angel Mom” how a visit from beyond the grave on her birthday causes her to feel things she hasn't felt since she was a child, Hoop jumps from the shallow to the deep with ease and aplomb.



The overall effect is mesmerizing because instead of being lulled to sleep by the same vocals, sounds, etc., the variety is actually what reaches in and takes control of you without your knowing it. These songs were meant to make people's heads bob, toes tap and bodies dance and sway, and all of this pretty much because you have no choice but to respond to the music in these ways. Hoop knows how to make you move, make you feel and do so at just the right moments so that each song, each lyric has the exact effect on you that she intends.



Hunting My Dress is a brilliant album, filled with love, longing and lightheartedness. These and other prominent feelings and experiences are matched with diverse sounds, a roller coaster ride's worth of ups and downs on the vocal scale and lyrics that balance the serious and humorous ends of the scale. Dress is a winner.