Friday, February 22, 2008

A Fine Frenzy - One Cell in the Sea

I realize that I missed the boat on her when this album came out. I should have listened to this a long time ago.
I fell in love with this album from the very first time I've heard it. When this happens, I know that I'm usually in for a letdown at some point. If I love an album immediately, I usually get sick of it by the sixth listen. I don't want it to happen this way, but it normally does.
Initially, I was struck by the quality (and clarity) of Alison Sudol's voice. It is no secret that I am a sucker for "chick singers", but I had no idea what to expect of this album before I heard it. Sudol has an absolutely amazing voice; it can be soft and sweet or huge and powerful, yet she never loses the clarity of her voice.
After overcoming my initial awe of her voice (which took at least four listens), I began to settle into the album and pay attention to some of the other elements. I enjoy the music, but there's really nothing special in the majority of the songs. There are some gorgeous arrangements on the songs, but, for the most part, the music doesn't really stand out. It's not bad, it's just kind of "there". There's not a whole lot in the music that jumped out at me. Her influences seem to range from artists like Sarah McLachlan to Coldplay and Eisley, even though she cites Radiohead and Sigur Ros as major influences.
Then I started to listen to her lyrics. A lot of them revolve around the theme of lost love. Some of them are great, and some of them are just kind of so-so. Again, they're not bad, but some of them come off as kind of cheesy or childish. Granted, she's only 23, but it sometimes sounds like she's in high school. This is definitely not true on every track on the album, but a lyric pops up every now and then that just made me want to shake my head.
I can overlook the lack of creative music. The beauty of some of her arrangements more than make up for a slight lack of creativity. And, since the bad lyrics only pop up every now and then, I can overlook those, too. I can overlook these because her voice more than makes up for any slight misstep she may have taken. The beauty of this album outweighs her missteps by a wide margin.
I love it from the first time I heard it. I have cooled on it slightly, but I still can't tear myself away from this album. I listen to this album at least once a day, and I still have not gotten sick of it.
Chalk up a win for Alison Sudol.

Rating: 8.5

Favorite Songs: "Almost Lover", "Ashes and Wine"

Check out her website here.


Fosterface said...

Let it be known that this is the first record since the Pixies' Doolittle that I had before you.

Matthew said...

Is this serious? You know who LOVES this album? Grant Smyrlakis. Everytime I put on something like Josh Ritter on at work, and he complains about how awful it is, I just say three words: A Fine Frenzy. He played that stinking thing for months, and I'm sorry, but it's banal pap. Put on some Sara Bareilles or Colbie Caillat while you're at it. I'm losing faith in you.