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Review: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Wanderlust
Published on January 21st, 2014 | Jonny Abrams
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Ooh, let’s be all ‘indie guru’ and review Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s fifth album Wanderlust just to show that we remember when she was in Theaudience and did some half-decent stuff.
It would be so cool of us to give it a great write-up, too. Don’t let us down, Soph…we could look dead clever here. Ed Harcourt on production duties bodes well, too.
Alas, the alluring qualities of Harcourt’s inquisitive songwriting and baroque arrangements are not enough to save Wanderlust from Ellis-Bextor herself, for the lack of expression and any kind of ‘oomph’ to her unchanging vocal style paints it twee no matter which direction it goes in.
Opening track “Birth of an Empire” is tremulous, keening guff, which is a shame as some of what’s to follow is not without merit – “Until the Stars Collide”, for example, has a bewitching sort of drama about it, even if we’re left none the wiser as to which stars are colliding, why they’re colliding and how this might affect us all.
More science next time, please.
Of particular frustration is “Runaway Daydreamer”, passing up as it does a succession of great chances to take an impactful twist and turn here and there. When it eventually does so in its middle eight, it’s not just the best bit of the song but perhaps of the whole album.
There are bound to be reviews elsewhere reporting how ‘mature’ and ‘sophisticated’ Wanderlust sounds, when really it’s just inconsequential eyelash-fluttering that aims for classy and lands closer to quaint.
Even good ideas like the sepia-tinted little shuffle of “Interlude” don’t register like they should for the lack of weight and character to Ellis-Bextor’s vocals – “Love is a Camera”, with its circus organ, baroque guitar and slappy brush drumming, is another that just needed topping off with something less perfunctory than SEB.
By which we mean Sophie Ellis-Bextor, of course, not Ipswich Town striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Just in case there was any confusion.
Anyway, check out Ed Harcourt’s new mini album Time of Dust instead. It’s a bit like this, but much better.
Wanderlust is out now on Douglas Valentine.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!