BY Sam King

Tia Gostelow’s debut album builds on years on hype to deliver an immense, powerful statement. After exploding onto the Australian music scene at the age of sixteen with her song ‘State of Art’, Gostelow strings one hit after another together into a beautifully crafted, if darkly brooding, body of work.

Now only two years out of high school, Gostelow is making music with such finesse and maturity it will make you wonder why you still don’t know how health insurance works. Many of the songs will be familiar if you’re one of Gostelow’s rapidly growing base of fans. Both ‘State of Art’ and ‘Vague Utopia’ picked up Queensland Music Awards in 2017. The other three singles from the album, ‘Strangers’, ‘Hunger’ and ‘That’s What You Get’, have also been nominated for awards and received heavy rotation on Triple J.

Throughout the album’s eleven tracks, Gostelow’s vocals twist their way through complex arrangements like tendrils of smoke. This is best seen on ‘Strangers’, a collaboration with fellow Triple J Unearthed artist LANKS, where Gostelow shows incredible range as her voice soars amongst thumping percussion.

The album conjures imagery of storm cloud rolling in, with the low rumble of guitars setting a dark but not gloomy mood. As synthesisers shine through ‘Vague Utopia’, we are safe indoors as the wind and rain batter the landscape outside. This leads into ‘Blue Velvet’, where a piano rises with Gostelow’s voice to fill the room. Walls begin to fall away, everything else is pushed aside. Thick Skin is an intense listening experience, but intensely rewarding. All this is captured in the album’s title. The raw emotion of the album leaves you exposed to the elements, but feeling invincible.

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