Julia Holter‘s first two home-recorded albums were influenced by Greek tragedies and classical literature, but although the inspiration for her first studio effort Loud City Song (out August 19 via Domino) came from more modern sources – the 1958 film adaptation of French novella Gigi and the vampiric, voyeuristic nature of her hometown of Los Angeles – it sounds just as out-of-step with contemporary pop music as its predecessors. This is, of course, a good thing. A classical composition graduate and part-time piano teacher, Holter was never likely to write a “Call Me Maybe”, but her spacious, electro-acoustic mini-symphonies offer much for those with a soft spot for Vespertine-era Bjork’s sensual ambience or latter-day Talk Talk’s cerebral art-rock, from the tidal swell of opener “World” to the choral Morse code of “In The Green Wild” (below) and “Maxim’s II”‘s avant-jazz freakout. With Gigi and 21st century gossip column culture providing a conceptual springboard rather than actual narrative restrictions – the album’s twin centrepieces, “Maxim’s I” and “II”, are named after the bar in the musical where the title character is gawked at and whispered about; “Horns Surrounding Me”, meanwhile, uses looped brass and street noise to convey the overwhelmed confusion of a celebrity cornered by flashbulb-popping papparazo – Loud City Song floats by in a blissful haze, multi-tracked cooing vocals, ethereal synths, strings and horns swirling around vague, half-remembered fever dream lyrics, but it’s far from background music. Experimental yet accessible, familiar yet original, studiously planned and flawlessy executed, it’s a top of the class performance from the avant garde’s new star pupil; listen now via NPR.