This album isn't so much a departure from the Imogen we all know and love, and as such can be two things - either boring and more of the same or comforting and like an old friend. Some of the tracks on this new 13 track album album are, to me, boring and one or two of them are the best I have heard from Immi in the last few years...
They say (whoever "They" are) that musicians need to evolve and change and.... release better or worse albums than their last, I am not sure Imogen has evolved, maybe more matured? ...on with the music!
I listened to the album four times, once on a plane, once in a deck chair, once at the beach and once walking home from work (slowly!)
Track One - First Train Home // 4:13 // One Star Started my review with 1505 miles to go, travelling at 355mph and 3029mtrs up... (At -3c for those plane geeks reading) - SO very reminiscent of older Immi, much use of "pop tech" self harmony and twists and turns of the lyrical variety. Much twittering and "community building" in the build up to this album made me so expectant and this first track - if indeed it was the first I heard - would have let it down for me... I don't like it, I'm sorry - it's not so strong and I would have started the album somewhere else.
Track Two - Wait it out // 3:58 // Five Stars Beautiful vocal layers, engaging lead vocal... I've just flown over the English coastline on my way to somewhere else, this track my soundtrack... I don't even begin to know what Imogen's vocals are about, but this track is like an elevator ride to the sun... I could and can and am listening to it over and over... Track Three - Earth // 3:35 // Two Stars I think the English'ness of Immi's vocal does something weird to my ears in this little number, something reminds me of Lily Allen and I flick the next track - every time. Old School Heap at her finest, not my cup of tea.
Track Four - Little Bird //4:09 // More stars than I have Little Bird is one of Imogen's best songs to date IMO. The separation of all the sounds, a stunning breathy vocal and some of the harmony lines (1:34... and my fave at 2:02..awesome downy uppy thing going on) Again, I don't even pretend to know what she's on about, but I know she used lots of gizmos and whatsits to creat all this amazingness... This is a sweet, sweet tune.
Track Five - Swoon // 3:54 // Three Stars Crunchy and Chewy.. Bang, Straight out of Little bird into this and my Shure's are giving my ears the good news... Lovely melody but then, in the chorus, I find myself wanting to dance like a crazy ghost to those eeeery wooooooOOOOWWWWwoooooOWWWWW sounds... you'll know what I mean. Quite enjoy the vocal chunk in the chorus... you're welcome to be my shipmate anytime, but you can keep your lotion to your self thank you missus!.. oh la la Imogen!
Track Six - Tidal // 3:52 // Four Stars The faux Cello start reminds me of "Just for Now" some parts of this album will naturally be recycled thoughts from previous works of art... Phrases, Loops... Still, an upbeat track with a typical Immi vocal that sends me skipping down the beach.
Track Seven - Between Sheets // 2:54 // One Star Maybe I was in a bad mood when I was listening to this the first time and it stuck with me, but this whole album (almost) says to me "with him, without him" sometimes it's fine, sometimes it's not... And, I guess that is fine, but ...I don't know, hell, I just don't like this track - It's "nice" but offers me nothing new...
Track Eight - 2-1 // 4:42 // Five Stars I was lost on this one, I don't know what to make of it. An amazing amazing (yes, I meant that twice) mix of vocal and machine... Will you be ready and BOOM you're away... stunning! Quickly becoming another favorite of all time, with the downturn at 3:00 making it quite magical... Then, at 3:34 I'm transcended in the movie, Braveheart? - Things are not always as they seem
Track Nine - Bad Body Double // 4:07 // Four Stars Something slightly different? Part Kate Bush, Part Sheryl Crow... Not sure if this one works for me, the funny little guitarish bit and that "scream" are quite cool... An interesting track, gets itself four stars for a touch of difference.
Track Ten - Aha! // 2:27 // Ah? A star? Wow, I'm in Cirque Du Soleil... Um whoa... Not sure what this is? Power ballad meets spy sound track meets Russian drinking game? - I close my eyes and I'm on a crazy film set and then, at the end the "Oy" ...nto a fan, it throws me about and makes me think though... SO? - Can't rate this one!
Track Eleven - The Fire // 2:00 // Seven stars Donnie Darko meets St. Germain? A-MAZ-ING.... Imogen, can you set the scene for me, where was this played? how did it come about? - I need to know more... I know it may be just a filler? Maybe just something you love playing and wanted to add... Seriously brilliant stuff... (In my notes I wrote "Five stars, no, Six!")
Track Twelve - Canvas // 4:55 // No Rating If I were in a lavish mountain cabin with the snow beating down outside, a fire blazing and good friends around me - I would want this as the soundtrack to that night. Absolute Aural Pleasure... (And the video is no slouch, either)
Track Thirteen - Half Life // 4:01 // A load of remaining stars (Let's call it seven) Half Life leaves me wondering "where for Imogen next" I think it's time for another collaboration - some different sounds, some different people... It's like the closing track to your favorite screen play, it's a brilliant closing song for a darn good CD, and, in this case - this is just what it is. Sure, at 2:14 I think I'm in an Airline commercial but hey, that's not detracting...
"There may well be others, but I still like to pretend that I'm the one you really want to grow old with"
Overall this album is really very pleasing and a great listen...
I implore you, actually, go buy it because we NEED artists like Immi... Get it here Imogen Heap // Ellipse