Call me Russ L

Carina Round’s “Slow Motion Addict” (Part #2)

Posted in Music by Russ L on 3 July, 2007

(Continued from here).

“Slow Motion Addict”, then. My first thought is that the photos of Carina on the front and back cover seem to have been chosen with the specific intention of “Giving someone who can use photoshop as many opportunities as possible”, but never mind that. I don’t want to encourage The Internet to turn her into the next Moshzilla.

To summarise quickly, my feelings about the album have several different layers. I do like it; and I like it more than I possibly expected to. This is a good thing. It’s not even remotely close to being as good as either of the previous two, of course, but I’m not disappointed as such. I think this is mostly because I’ve known for a long time what it was going to be like. Disappointment dissipates if only you can get a good run-up at it.

‘Stolen Car’ kicks the album off. A busy production and the doubling up of high and deep vocals at the same time gives a faintly unsettling feeling, boosting what would otherwise be ‘Not Bad, Alright’-ish bit of angsty alt-rock. It’s reasonably catchy but I can’t see it blowing anyone’s socks off. ‘How Many Times’ sadly just seems mundane. Again, it’s vaguely catchy. That’s about as much as I can offer.

‘Gravity Lies’ has an interesting and menacing-sounding beginning, utilizing glitchy throbs and clicks overlaid with twanging guitar. The chorus sounds somehow familiar (dunno where from. A Pixies song? I’m really not sure), but it melts down in the middle before going into electronic squiggling, combining with some riffing that probably might sound fairly uninspired in other circumstances but works with all this. Or does it? This is one of the two songs on the album that I keep going back and forth about, but alas my positive feelings here aren’t as positive as the negative ones are negative.

I have to say that – while I hadn’t actively disliked anything so far – on first listen I was a bit worried at this point. Fortunately, we now hit what I definitely consider to be the best four-song-run on the album. ‘Ready To Confess’ is where things begin to get down and dirty, and it works. While initially not as savage-sounding as it seemed live, it works in a spaced-out yet somehow adrenaline-filled way. The nails-down-the-blackboard shriek of guitar running towards the end is a great detail. It’s possibly a hint at what this whole thing could have been.

It gets better. For all of my whinging about the music leaning closer to the sort of thing we’ve heard before, my two favourites are the two most obvious rock/pop songs (mildly ironic but it shouldn’t be surprising. Boo to idiomatic distinctions. Hurrah for qualitative ones). ’I Want More’ would probably garner my vote for the best on here, a hugely catchy up-tempo thing with the most immediately ear-catching line of lyrics on the whole album (“It’s not me. I’m representing someone that died during the conversation”). It’s simply a strong, memorable song, and I like it a lot. ’Take The Money’ isn’t quite as good, but is still massively catchy and fun. Both of these are surely future singles, and happily both of them have a lot more to them than the greedy/acquisitive feel that the casual observer might inaccurately derive from the titles.

“Down Slow” is lovely. Its gentle and playful air shows a side to Carina that her recorded works have never really displayed before, as her sleepily intoned words and the dreamy chiming guitar contrast with the pulsing bassline and the slightly scarier sounds faintly captured in the background. A unique and sexy triumph.

I’m still undecided about the first single ’Come To You’, though. It’s catchy enough (I think we can safely say she’s mastered that, by this point in time), but… It could soundtrack a montage bit in a crap film, before the main character finally makes a difficult decision. Or whatever-have-you. Don’t worry, it makes sense to me.

’Slow Motion Addict’ is a rum little do, starting all off balance and jazzily wonky (perhaps this is the bit most similar to her earlier material, outwardly), before eventually exploding into something approaching post-rock. The spacey blurbly beeps in the background just pull the roaring guitars slightly out of their element. This is probably the only song on the album on the album that really wrong-footed me and did something I wasn’t expecting, but that isn’t the only reason why I liked it.

‘January Heart’ is another really ‘obvious’ one, but it is affecting. This is our first hint that even when ‘produced’ six ways to Sunday, her voice can still tug at the old emotions at times. It almost threatens another biiiig guitar squalling, but backs down.

Having a song called ’The Disconnection’ (i.e. the title of her prior album) on here is presumably designed to confuse people. That’s not a bad thing, though. I’ll take as much contrariness from her as I can get, by this point. I have no idea whether it’s actually from the previous era or not, although I can imagine that it was. It does sound like something that could have been on the eponymic LP, with the lush strings especially recalling the tracks towards the end of that album. A bit of electronic jiggery-pokery has been added on top, but never mind that – this is the one where the voice really comes back. Some of her old pitch-ascending tricks are employed, and my attention is caught. She can still do what she did. She would still have the ability to break hearts and tear souls if she so wished.

’The City’ is the obligatory big and epic album-ender. Dynamically, as well as in the use of nursery-rhyme-ish glockenspiel (I think) it recalls Radiohead. She sings really, really high in the chorus. Not quite Janet Kay high, but still really high. I like it.

There we are, then. I do like it, and that’s about as much as I can ask. The thought occurs that the central tenets of Carina fandom – “Thou Shalt Not Compare Her Wonderfulness To P.J. Harvey, And Thou Shalt Go Out Unto The World And Argue With Those Who Do” – are rendered invalid, since there’s nothing on here that you couldn’t imagine being voiced by Pretty Polly. Somehow, though, that feels like the most outre and unexpected move Carina could possibly have made, even if she herself will continue to insist on Patti Smith being a more accurate comparison.

Right, that was fun, what shall we do now? Wait for the next one, I suppose. Will Interscope make her rich and famous in the meantime, or will she end up as yet another re-run of Albini’s “The Trouble With Music” essay? I suppose we’ll have to let events unfold.

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