Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Like an Album of Your Close Friends [REVIEW]

LABEL: Parlophone

I'm doing my research while listening to Eliza Doolittle (real name Eliza Sophie Caird), and looking at this young lady's CV, I'm impressed. And then intimidated. And then impressed again by the soundtrack to my findings.
Money Box leads the roster, and is quirky enough to have you bobbing up and down to the chorus on the daily commute or while listening to the radio. I quickly grow fond of her lyrical style - certain songs like Rollerblades sound like something I'd scribble in my diary or say in general conversation: there's no pretence here and it's genuine and charming. Tongue-in-cheek phrases and double-entendres paint Eliza as a sweet but not un-threatening songstrel - she's no Dido, sighing and looking wistfully into a cup of cold tea: she's the girl who gets off the bus every morning with a spring in her step.
Mr Medicine is a good little 'breaker number' after the similar hand-clapping ska-pop flavours of debut single Skinny Genes and Rollerblades, with another sing-along chorus and a gentle sway-and-clap-along feel to it. Well-placed samples of catchy hooks, such as the whistling riff from Andy Williams' hit song 'Butterfly' used in Skinny Genes give the tunes a 'vintage' feel, as though she had pinned a family heirloom brooch to a brand new outfit. It's a great touch, and not a glaringly obvious one like some artists' who use samples.
Back to Front follows the whistling hook vibe, and marks a slightly slower pace, but with Eliza there's no jolt from an overtly chipper mood to a sombre one. It's all transitional, which is something I in particular crave in albums. Aurally, Back to Front is like a wistful walk with the wind at your back. A Smokey Room is a little more brash, with vibrant brass licks and a skippy tempo, while So High lets Eliza's voice soar like a well-practiced, old-time blues vocalist. Nobody is happy-go-lucky in lyrics and melody, while Pack Up (her highest charting single so far) is the 'standout track' - the gospel-barbershop flavour making it easily one of the most recognisable songs of 2010. Closing tracks Police Car and Empty Hand seem like an epilogue, soothing you to sleep or just bidding you a gentle 'goodbye' before you move on to the next album.
Now size isn't everything, but the longest track on this album is 3:42 and it's the longest by a little while. The tracks tantalise with their relatively short length, so it comes as quite a relief that there's more than a handful of tracks on the album, all of them with their own memorable quirks - it's like an album of your close friends.

NEETY'S VERDICT: ****/*****
Ideal for a nice relaxing session or a thinking spree, this is comfortable listening for fans of Kate Nash or Paloma Faith who want a laid-back, no strings listen that won't fling you around the mood board. Eliza has plenty to offer and is definitely one to watch this year.

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