February 20th, 2018 | Album reviews

Venus EP
Empty Cellar

Having explored Mercury last spring, Mars last summer and Saturn last fall, Earth Girl Helen Brown and her Center for Planetary Intelligence Band have moved on to the final installment of their seasonal solar-system series: Venus. Whereas Saturn was a cerebral journey propelled by Afro-Caribbean beats, this installment is all about love, and is accordingly packed with atmospherically poppy love songst—think Dolly Parton, the Supremes, and Sade headlining a show on a space station. Venus kicks off with the bright and wistful “Chains of Love,” an addictive tune that you’ll wish would never end. It easily transitions into “Judy’s Song,” which manages to be warm and cold at the same time: the music is slow, steady, and upbeat, but the distantly delivered line “my love was true” touches down like fresh snow on a barren planet. The final track “My AI (Baby Grandfather)” is the most psychedelic of the bunch, combining a “shooby-doo-wop” refrain and verses that sound like they’re transmitted through a tin-can telephone over sci-fi keys and a funky bassline. At the end, Earth Girl Helen Brown whispers, “I love you … do you love me?” before signing off. Venus is sure to make the second planet from the sun proud. Do yourself a favor and spend some time basking in the light of this EP.

—Julia Gibson