A Review of The Archer

Singer Alexandra Savior captures listeners with her intoxicating sophomore release, "The Archer"

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Joshua Abels

Savior's "The Archer" is contains only ten tracks, but it could fill a lifetime of listening.

Magdalena Laughrey, Staff Writer

Click here to listen to the full album

Three years after her debut album, Belladonna of Sadness, Portland-native Alexandra Savior released a new record entitled The Archer that puts her mysterious, melancholic sound on a musical pedestal, infecting audiences, and leaving them wanting more. With only ten tracks and a 31-minute run time, the album feels brief, but it never falls short of remarkable. Each track, written by Savior herself, is deeply personal and based purely on her own experiences in the years following her first release.

Savior poignantly described her inspiration and mindset when writing the album to Billboard Magazine:

“I think I went through a period of time where I was very innocent and I was being taken advantage of by a lot of manipulative forces in my life… I was very young and naive when I first left home and came into the music industry…I never felt I was being seen for who I was; I was being seen for what they could push me into and what was most sellable…It was only when I was rejected by those forces when I began to have a voice.”

The album has an underlying feeling of heartbreak and reflection on the past, as well as being completely and utterly enthralled by a particular person, perhaps a lover. Savior mentioned in several interviews that she wrote parts of the album after a turbulent and abusive relationship ended, so many of the songs portray the mixed feelings one may have during such a confusing time in their life.

Every song has its own special meaning, sound, and overall emotion that it invokes, so the best way to truly understand the artistry of this album is to break it down track by track.

“Soft Currents”

Before dipping into her signature stylish sorrowful sound, to start off her album, Savior opts for a piano-led ballad detailing the tumultuous years she endured during her transition from a young, naive singer ready for the spotlight to a more head-strong, yet still emotional woman who has become more confident in herself. With her soft, honeyed voice, she laments, “My fate is at the hand of my mistakes/And that’s alright”. The time behind her proved to be burdensome and definitely weighed on her conscience during the album’s creation, but she seems to have accepted her struggle, made peace with it, and continued to grow from it. Savior continues on in the song to tell listeners that she still feels sad at times, but nevertheless, she will gradually find her happiness and herself.

“Saving Grace”

With a tune that seems to have been ripped straight from the title sequence of a James Bond film, Savior steps on the gas pedal and delves into a guitar-heavy track, oozing with power and mystery. The second single from the album stands out among some of the others with her use of high-pitched, breathy vocals, seemingly from some disembodied narrator. The lyrics add further to the mystique, with an antagonist crudely described, referred only to as “she”, and with obvious malicious motives, yet somehow it is Savior’s saving grace.”She’s not an angel, my dear/She is a beast”, Savior confides to the listener. Many of the lines are repeated multiple times through the song, ingraining them into the mind of the audience but without any explanation of what they may entail.

“Crying All the Time”

Definitively, “Crying All the Time” is the most somber of all ten tracks, with sorrowful guitars guiding the song. Even though the lyrics reveal a minimal amount about why Savior encounters so much anguish, the chorus tells us that a man she was in love with inspired the misery: “He doesn’t like it when I cry/And now he’s gone so/I’m crying all the time”. From this, listeners can deduce that she endured abuse within this relationship, emotional or otherwise; the man she loved would reprimand her for crying for reasons unknown, and eventually, when he left her, she continued to cry for her lost love, despite her mistreatment. The confused feelings a victim of abuse might feel are portrayed perfectly here: though she was hurt in the relationship, the heartbreak still hurts, even if they are better off alone.

“Howl”

Savior paints a picture of severe infatuation with someone she knows is dangerous in “Howl”, backed by full-bodied bass and synth to drive the song forth. The eerie tone of the music perfectly compliments the lyrics: “Handsome dictator of my crimes/I can’t tell if they’re yours, I can’t tell if they’re mine”. The man in question seems to decide her fate and pin his wrong-doings onto her, blurring the line between his own transgressions and hers. Again, the relationship being detailed is obviously abusive; he controls all within their affair. The control factor entices her early on and forces her to pursue him unwillingly, but she soon finds that his intentions are far deadlier than she had realized. The progression from a fiery desire to reluctant love is showcased in Savior’s star track from The Archer.

“Send Her Back”

“How could you do it, baby?” croons Savior on “Send Her Back”, a song that narrates her experiences with a man who cheated on her. Savior’s iconic dulcet vocals are given a broader range with high and low notes hit throughout the chorus of the track. Though the instrumentals take charge with bouncy, staccato piano, slick bass lines, and powerful horns, the minimal lyrics brim with anger and sadness, wanting an answer as to why he hurt her. The emotion lies solely in her voice, showing Savior’s talent in revealing just enough about herself to let the listener feel her pain.

“Can’t Help Myself”

Savior’s infectious melancholia switches to a more uplifting serenade about her fascination for her man. The instrumentals feel sweeter and lighter, as do the lyrics, recounting the love she feels finally being reciprocated by the man she is with. She loves him, and he loves her back, a feeling of mutual affection that she has been missing in her life, and consequently, in the album. “I can’t help myself/Something comes over me/Baby, whenever you are around” Savior sings with love coating her voice, happiness spilling from it. The synth puts listeners into a dream-like state, similar to one Savior feels around her lover.

“The Phantom”

Written like a true Dark Romanticist, Savior displays her sorrow in “The Phantom” with gloom galore. Just like Edgar Allan Poe in his poem “Alone”, Savior laments, “I fell in love alone”. The man she loves treats her poorly, a common theme within the album, and he places himself above her to a point of pain for her. The vocals feel as though they come from a phantom itself: wary and mournful with a tinge of morbidity. Savior seems to be the only one in the relationship who gives affection, and the lack of reception begins to affect her more and more as the affair continues on. The “phantom pain” she confesses is the emotional turmoil she battles with her love every single day. The music itself feels as though it could double as a score to a horror film from days past, with an undeniably eerie guitar line and jumpy bass.

“Bad Disease”

Continuing the theme of irresistibly treacherous men, Savior confesses to listeners about why she has become infatuated with this man whom she knows is bad for her: everything he does is enthralling and pulls her closer and closer to his “disease”. Slow, jazzy, and moody, this track has an alluring edge that is as tempting and infectious as the man she pines for. The man in question maintains complete control over Savior with his captivating atmosphere: “My preacher, my undefined creature/Consumes me”. Dark imagery fills the lyrics, with mentions of blood, cobras, chaos, spiders, and venom to illustrate just how this man can cloud her mind with his sinister nature and cause her to lose all rationality. Bewitched entirely by his lethal charisma, she has no option but to continually fall into his poisoned love.

“But You”

Days and nights alone take a toll on a person, shown artfully through Savior’s clever lyricism in “But You”. She describes the longing she experiences when her lover is away, and the only antidote to her heartache is his return and nothing else. Without him around, her sorrow saturates her soul and mind, leaving her waiting for the one person to bring her happiness after so long: “I know that can you feel it/’Cause nobody else can heal it but you”. Whether the distance between the two is emotional or physical, the pain engulfs her, thus furthering the need for the man to return. He spurs her sadness, joy, and every other emotion in between; he essentially controls every aspect of her life.

“The Archer”

To close off her sophomore album, Savior chose the album’s namesake, “The Archer”. Her gentle, velvety-soft vocals construct an air of genuine love and tenderness, while the lyrics juxtapose that notion. Originally written for a lover, Savior discussed prior to the song’s release that she realized the instability of the relationship after the song was penned; the lyrics candidly show how a person can easily hurt someone they love while the other just accepts it. Toward the beginning of the song, she asserts her new-found belief in heaven from his presence in her life alone. However, as she continues, it becomes clearer to the listener that the relationship is detrimental to her: “You ate me right up/You spit me back out”. In this relationship, the man takes advantage of Savior and her devoted love; he constantly tears her apart piece by piece, leaving her to repair her own broken heart so that she can continue to love him. This piano-led ballad openly presents the sad truth of how abuse and manipulation can harm a person in their relationship, which is one of the most common themes within the entire album. Everything Savior discusses throughout The Archer is encompassed by this track, the rawest and authentically sincere song on the entire album.