Ella Hooper Ė Vocals
Jesse Hooper Ė Guitar
Warren Jenkin Ė Bass
Adam Pedretti Ė Drums
Complaints Dept. Punk/metal looks + violent name + teen pop
= bargain bin.
Iím going to attempt to describe the music of Reflector
in a way that those who will like it can recognize it and
enjoy it. I donít know why I bother, since like the album,
this review wonít reach the right audience. Itís the most
impressively complex pop music you are likely to hear for
quite some time. The musicianship is startling, the lyrics
are personal, and Ella has an agile and professional
voice. As a whole, it has a Selena fashion about it.
The taste of No Doubt on Mascara is more than the
"stupid girl" line. Remove the punkinska flavor,
and this is what youíd be left with. "Blue Moon"
is hinted at in strings and doo-wop bass. The guitars are
surprisingly aggressive, but offset by Europop keys. Ella
has a sweet Tanya Donelly quality to her voice. Fancy
moves meant to make her sound sophisticated belie her youth.
The acoustic on the very personal, "Weir" is folky
goodness. Softer vocals showcase Ella at her best. The more
vigorous portions bring out a grating that they find necessary
to double. Electric guitar crunching textures the ballad.
Itís a caring message that Iím sure Bob will hold close. "Superman"
is where the band begins to demonstrate switch-hitting in
the rhythms. Moderate platter scratching and smoky vocals
bring Portishead into view. Ellaís lisp shows through
the faster portions, while the music literally peels out.
Rounding the bend, they lay low perfectly. The wrap-up gets
repetitive, but ends with torch song rewards. Although itís
lyrically inferior to the rest of the disc, it beats the rest
of the dribble on the market hands-down.
The breathed vocals of Icarus myth, "Astral Boy"
works so much better with the gorgeous Zeppelin acoustic
and stirring violins. Odd that with the slick production assessed
on this project, they had the good sense to allow the guitar
scratches to remain intact. The simplest arrangement here
makes the most beautiful, plaintive statement. Now the eastern
guitar chases its tail excitedly on "Leave Me Alone."
The impeccable delivery is dizzying. Of course the tasteful
use of the obligatory* may appease the nu-metal crowd, but
I doubt it. For all her abilities, Ellaís voice floats a little
above the music, unable to meld into it. The shelf she sticks
to is a little restricting. On "You Donít Know",
the shredding and scratching are interjected with Poe-like
intrusions. Like American McGee, the take on Alice is frantic
and brutal in, "Jar Labeled Small". The ankle-biting
visions are stark to nightmarish, "By the time you
read this, Iíll be fast asleep and waking. All the faces growing
in me havenít felt human for a while now."
The blinding speed of "Class Celebrities" is virtually
unknown in this arena. This velocity canít help but propel
Ella into atmospheric soaring. The occasional lilting pirouettes
swirl into Dale Bozzio. Fantastic precision rolls from
Pedretti, and piston pumping guitar worthy of Billy
Joe. All this said, it maintains a fun lightness via the
80ís keyboard. I wonít object to Morrisette comparisons
on "Live Without It." Itís not exact, but will appeal
to the same. The slower folk parts have that Schoolhouse
Rock "Suffering ĎTil Suffragette" feel. The
self-harmonies on "Real People" clash with themselves
to the point I had to turn the song down. Still 80ís synth
and backing in the drive. A traditional death-waltz time change
mixes it up. Speaking of time changes, and complex rhythms,
"Jonís Song" is nearly a Dave Matthews structure.
Tender bits that lead into fancily crafted music where surely
the band has to face each other to get it right. The syncopated
waltz is impressive considering they draw it back into gentle
sparseness. "Black Sheep" sways from side to side
with a stupid grin on itís happy "I just got dumped"
ass. This is the sort of saccharine I expect on CCM releases.
But I guess itís a feel-good number to leave you with. Sure
itís pretty, and flutey and peppy. With all the talent, diversity
and originality they have brought to teen pop music, I would
rather give Patti Rothberg a gun with my name and address
stamped on it than to have to hear this well crafted album
On perpetual bargain bin scale, one being The Party,
and ten being Wire Train; Reflector rates a
4, The Primitives.
*Sitar, itís the new black.
- Astral Boy
- Leave Me Alone
- You Donít Know
- Jar Labeled Small
- Class Celebrities
- Live Without It
- Real People
- Jonís Song
- Black Sheep
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