I have, for a few months now, been utterly entranced by the dreamy lyrics and milky tones of Alison Sudol aka ‘A Fine Frenzy’. So when I discovered she had a new album out, ‘A Bomb in a Birdcage’ (a title taken from the song ‘What I Wouldn’t Do’), I was downloading it quicker then said bomb could blow that birdcage to smithereens- and I was not disappointed. The age old cliché that a second album is never good as the first here is completely thrown up in the air. It has been described by critics as “closer to mainstream pop, with less of the singer-songwriter feel and more synthy sounds and bouncier beats. A Fine Frenzy's second album isn't a huge change of direction but more an evolution of sound”. But here’s it broken down, song by song:
1. What I Wouldn’t Do – Whilst not being my favorite song on the album, ‘What I Wouldn’t Do’ is a happy, refreshing way to start an album. It kicks off with a cheerful guitar sequence with the occasional tinkling of the ivories before slipping effortlessly and beautifully into the sweet vocals of Alison Sudol with splashings of pretty harmonies. A nice start.
2. New Heights – This song is closer to her old stuff that we saw in ‘One Cell in the Sea’. This song appears to be care-free, but if you slip past the smooth vocals and happy-go-lucky piano score, you can hear Sudol’s lyrical genius. Beautiful.
3. Electric Twist – Officially one of those songs that tattoos itself on your mind, and before you go comparing it to the likes of Black Lace’s Agadoo or some of the awfully repetitive corporate stuff you get nowadays, give it a listen. ‘Electric Twist’ is some of those songs that make you smile or, in my case anyway, actually get off you chair and do some electric twisting- and I thought only Bill Haley and the Comets could do that!
4. Happier – Perhaps my favorite song on the album. Sudol’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful, the lyrics filled with the stark realism of any break up when although neither person wants to part, you know it’s for the best. Definitely, definitely, definitely worth a listen.
5. Swan Song – A soulful tune with beautiful lyrics. Not my favorite; the one song on the album that I skip on shuffle, but if you’re into melancholy ballads, this is the one for you.
6. Elements – this song starts with a slow, almost military-like drum beat before slowly layering on the synthy sounds, before kicking into the actual song. I really like this song, it feels like it has many layers – an onion, if you will – that need to be broken down. Magnificent.
7. The World Without – This has a very pop-y feel about it; sweet, happy listening for when you're feeling down.
8. Bird of Summer – Here Sudol retracts into the singer-songwriter aura that we saw in her first album, with a truly beautiful piano score. However, that's not what I love about this song; it’s the happy chirps of wind instruments in the introduction, a fun way of reacting to the calls of birds without following down the route of other artists and layering on some sound clips. Plus, it’s always good, because it means I don’t glance out of my window wondering where all the birds are (Your Only Doll – Laura Marling: I just never learn!)
9. Stood Up – Definitely one of my favorites, ‘Stood Up’ has a more powerful, independent feel then the rest of the album. Rather then the sweet dulcet tones we hear on the rest of the album, here Sudol’s voice is synthy and interesting.
10. The Beacon – Actual pure lyrical genius! With the repetitive, monotonous words of mainstream chart-toppers today it’s refreshing to actually hear a metaphor. ‘The Beacon’ is absolutely bittersweet and beautiful, a song for the soul.
Somehow I have a feeling that me and ‘A Fine Frenzy’ will be carrying on this love affair for many years to come...
Source for review: http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858794824/