Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Emiliana Torrini - Me and Armini

Emilíana Torrini
Me and Armini
Grade: C+ (Rough Trade, 2008)

Download: Emiliana Torrini - "Me And Armini"

Sultriness is a distinct expression of sexuality, in that it is the direct way to convey sexual feeling, but it also cannot be overwhelming. There’s a little bit of subtlety needed in order to direct one’s self backwards from being cocky to being confident. Too much in one direction will lead to either being slapped in the face, and too much in the other may lead to not even having your feelings acknowledged.

How curious then, that while Icelandic Emilíana Torrini has a voice that's soaked in sultriness, her songs result in nothing more than toe-tapping innocuousness. Torrini's sixth album, Me and Armini, succeeds in dabbling in many different genres, some more straightforward than others. The first song, "Fireheads", recalls the laid-back surf-rock of Jack Johnson, with a little nod to the chromatic guitar riff from Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary", while others like the In Rainbows-esque multi-track warmth of "Bleeder" are cut from more experimental cloth. One peculiar aspect of listening to Me and Armini is hearing the more adventurous songs stacked up against songs that are nondescript at best. For every track like the VH1-ready "Big Jumps" and the humdrum bossa nova of "Hold Heart", there's a stunner like "Dead Duck", a song that alternates time-signatures and expertly manipulates Torrini's acoustic guitar and voice; and "Gun", which casts the songstress as a femme fatale in the old-school noir sense to tell a reverb-heavy tale of lust and revenge.

Elsewhere, creative production techniques and unpredictable arrangements (check out the almost post-rock interlude of folk-infused ditty "Birds") help keep the album from entering the introspective doldrums too much, and "Jungle Drum" gets by on sheer, goofy infatuation. While too much of Armini is a battle of the mundane and the truly distinctive, and the former wins out much more than it should (like on the sass-ska of the title track), the fact that the latter peeps its head out on more than one occasion should encourage any listeners who have their doubts.

Emiliana Torrini MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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