venerdì 15 gennaio 2010
Se penso agli Echobelly penso Brit Pop. Li adoravo, ma non scherzo. la mia era proprio amore e venerazione, e pensare che non li ho mai visti dal vivo, ed è un grande rimpianto. Guitar pop iper melodico e l'angioletto diabolico Sonia che ci delizia con la sua voce. In questo disco poi ci sono, a mio avviso, i singoli migliori del gruppo e il resto è su pregevolissimi livelli. Figli del loro tempo, certo, ma di una freschezza assoluta. (1995 Sony)
...L'album On (550 Music, 1995) ripete il trucco, sfoderando pero` un paio di riff brucianti (Car Fiction e King Of The Kerb) e la radiosa melodia folkrock di Great Things (forse il loro capolavoro). Go Away sfrutta per la millesima volta il trucco di un ritornello puerile su una distorsione galattica e da li` in poi il disco e` tutto in ripida discesa. L'elaborata Dark Therapy tenta invano di costruire armonie piu` coraggiose. Questa volta il nerbo c'e`: mancano ancora le buone canzoni. (Piero Scaruffi - http://www.scaruffi.com/)
Echobelly leader singer Sonia Aurora-Madan is a 90s kind of female pop star: she's really got nothing to complain about, but, in every interview I've seen with her, she seems to be intent on being seen as relevant. Unfortunately , her confused socio-political rhetoric often makes her come off as the very bubble-headed stereotype she so vehemently decries. Aurora-Madan is the kind of girl Michael Stipe could love (and indeed, he does love her band): a sloganeering, politically correct mouthpiece who spews hatred directed at all the proper "isms" (race/sex and so on) but whose actual commitment (besides getting her name in the music press) is seemingly quite questionable.
I must admit, having read a lot of Aurora-Madan's interviews before hearing her band, I was hoping to be able to totally write Echobelly off as an entity as shallow as she often seems. Yet this album, the follow-up to last year's UK Top 10 Everybody's Got One, does contain its fair share of pleasing pop. At its best, this music that makes you feel through sheer inspired craft: Aurora-Madan's affected vocal style--while surely not for everyone--more often than not meshes agreeably with the shimmering, gigantic riffing of Glen Johansson on guitar. Even the clunkers usually have a redeeming, hum-alone feature or two that elevates them above the merely mundane.
The album leads off in fine style with "Car Fiction," a fast-paced number inspired by (according to Aurora-Madan) the work of Quentin Tarantino - which at this point is surely a bit of bandwagon-hopping, but at least it rocks. It's very early 80s new-wavy, with lost of guitar-driven energy, and lyrics that are merely serviceable: "Run run away / maybe we can run away". This is Echobelly at its best: nothing profound, not trying for anything beyond its grasp. It's over fast, and you'd like to play it again.
"King of the Kerb" is also mid-tempo hooky, with a vague lyric seemingly berating young male hoodlums who hand out on street corners and get mixed up with street crime. As is usual with Aurora-Madan's lyrics when she tries to get all messagey, the result is both confused and confusing. "They're the kings of the kerb / and everybody knows what they're worth" is fine as a near-rhyme, but upon closer inspection seems a bit smug and lacking in depth, somewhat like the singer herself. In Aurora-Madan's utopian world-view, everyone would be nicey-nice and lovey-dovey, but she seems at a loss to offer a roadmap to this promised land, indicating that, as in her interviews, she's tackling subject matter here which would be in her case better left alone.
"Great Things," a UK hit, is Echobelly at its most chirpy and vapid. "I wanna do great things / I don't wanna compromise" is at least as heavy a sentiment as is usually offered up by that other great philosopher, Belinda Carlisle; it's hard to afford Aurora-Madan her oft-stated demand to be taken seriously when she comes up with clunkers like this, an obvious attempt at a hit single and pop "sooper-stardom" (even if it does sneak in a masturbation reference- tres chic!). Believe me, Elastica this ain't. However, it may do for those who think Rod McKuen is a poetic genius.
Happily, most of On avoids the actuality of "Great Things," and instead strives--if not always achieving-- for what that song theoretically embraces. The record picks up steam as it winds through tracks like the agreeably dramatic "Natural Animal," Aurora-Madan's take on the nature vs nurture question in which she discards the analysis and goes for the passion instead. "Go Away" veers a little too close to the obvious, sappy territory of "Great Things," but "Pantyhose and Roses" springs things back to life with a witty take on bourgeois manners and the twisted passions that lie beneath (ok, it's not original, but the quirky little reggaefied riff and Aurora-Madan's feisty delivery save the day).
Frankly, what really keeps me listening here is the totally rockin' guitar that Johansson splatters all over tracks like "Four Letter Word," forcing Aurora-Madan to sink or swim. "Nobody Like You" also shakes a bit, but it may remind those familiar with glories of the Smiths (to whom Echobelly is oft-compared) of a kind of B version of the same. Johansson may be able to approriate Johnny Marr, but the profundity and wit of Morrissey at his best is out of Aurora-Madan's artistic reach.
Echobelly are thus at their best when they stay within the limits of guitar-heavy pop with a slight twist; true greatness will never be theirs, even if the likes and Stipe and Courtney Love are now lining up to court them, whiffing a possible breakthrough. As downright competent and pleasing as it can sometimes be, On won't be causing Justine Frischmann any sleepless nights. (John Walker - http://www.westnet.com/)
- Car Fiction
- King of the Kerb
- Great Things
- Natural Animal
- Go Away
- Pantyhose and Roses
- Something Hot in a Cold Country
- Four Letter Word
- Nobody Like You
- In the Year
- Dark Therapy
- Worms and Angels