th="71" height="71">Love in the Time of Science
It's always refreshing when an artist makes his or her way into their own little niche. We should recognize Emiliana Torrini as the first to fall into the "I sound like Björk" group. Travis, Muse, Starsailor, Remy Zero, Coldplay, Piltdown, Gay Dad: I probably don't even have to mention what commonality these bands hold.
Very few artists actually carry the talent to mark new territory, to release ideas that truly have never been touched before. These artists usually end up clearing the way for bands that follow with radio-listener-friendly versions of the original original ideas. Watered down. Marketable. Fed to the ears of the common man. Something for your little sister, Jenna, to buy. That's fine though. It's the business. It's what keeps the unique bands exploring.
So with all that having been said, realize that amongst the mess of copy-cat bands, you will always discover your own few gems (unless you're one of those cocky 'anti' people, but that's ok too). It all comes down to which artists you happen to reserve and hold a special place for. Personal preference, naturally.
Upon first listening to Love in the Time of Science, I heard it as a good effort. The more I searched and lent my attention to the disc, the more irritated and ill-impressed I became. I am not sure why. I'm almost confused when I hear the music. Is it lack of potential, or is it too much left untouched?
I tried to look past the woman's uncanny vocal resemblance to Björk. Other than her, my extent of known Icelandic bands at the time was limited to Sigur Ros and The Sugarcubes. Variety. I really didn't want to let what may have just been an accent get in the way of my judging the CD. And for a moment, I will ignore that similarity in this writing as well.
You've got the electronic drumbeats. The strings. The random beepy noises. The reverb coated vocals. The pair of "those quiet songs" distributed across the album that use a picked guitar line as the flowing force. No surprises there. The composition and production have an obvious shortage of creativity and exploration. The album is clouded with cliché dynamics. The chord that you know will come next always does.
"Once in a house on a hill a boy got angry. He broke into my heart."
"I can't believe what God has done. He took the heat out of the sun, and now it seems the world is growing colder."
"I don't have time to play, so put your toys away. Don't take it easy. Why should we take it easy?"
Her charming voice with a seemingly unpursued vocal ability doesn't really make up for the childish and simple lyrical content. I may be speaking too soon on this, as I am not the best at reading into the meanings of words, but Emili's sentences just pain me with her dumb rhymes and naïve, innocent subject matter. Does that style (when done well) sound familiar? She hasn't quite gotten it right. She doesn't come off with the same effect; she doesn't give us a huge peek at the little girl inside. She's writing more as if she were an angst ridden 13 year-old trying to communicate in school-learned English. But we can look at that as a good thing. It's original, though at the same time you can't help but smell the imitation attempt. Your opinion is what counts. I, for one, cannot look past it.
Of course this album, like all, isn't a complete loss. It's got quite an impressive array of instrumentation, most of which is surely electronic. I'd probably give the credit to the writing partner/producer (Roland Orzabal, of Tears for Fears), although I'm not certain about who did what. Each song is definitely set apart from the rest. I believe the only part that every song does share is the prominent basslines.
As mentioned above, one piece sticks out from the rest in my mind. Track 8: "Telepathy." Her vocal ability is exposed during the chorus of this number. A musical move in this direction theoretically could be the right thing for this girl. Pushing her vocals closer to their extent. She needs to take more risks. She needs to set herself apart from the rest.
I hear an upbeat Portishead. An Icelandic Natalie Imbruglia. A popish Goldfrapp. A dark Britney Spears. I'm not going to not recommend this album (sic.). It's definitely all right. It's got some catchy songs, some emotional exposure from the girl, some cool effects. I look forward, in fact, to the her next album in hopes that she will break off onto her own, more self-defined, personal path... as I am almost confident she may have the ability to do.
1. To Be Free
2. Wednesday's Child
3. Baby Blue
4. Dead Things
5. Unemployed in Summertime
9. Tuna Fish
11. Sea People