Alison Sudol knows how to play with my heart strings, and in turn increase my love for lithe redheaded women. Better known as A Fine Frenzy, the young lady from Los Angeles delivered her second studio album, Bomb in a Birdcage, on my birthday of all days.
A fine present indeed, her music is melodic and almost ethereal at times, with her voice carrying off in echoes. Among these echoes are the notes she plays on her piano, but more feverously than her first album. This was her chance to try and go in a slightly different direction, and I think she achieved it in every way.
Alison is a lover of many type of music, with my homegirls Aretha Franklin being one of her inspirations; with an additional admiration of literature in the mix as well. These are all components to one of the most talented young women in the music game. I would put her up there with current female superpowers Sia, Adele, and M.I.A. Finally, the United States has someone to represent for our lovely ladies.
I could go on all day about how great she is, but let’s get into why this album is up there with the best for me…while attempting to retain my masculinity. Let’s go.
One thing that hit me when I saw the track names of album was that the wording made me think that the songs would be negative. For instance, the first track Wouldn’t Do, made me think in the wrong terms. In fact, it’s about all the childish things she would do for me (or whatever other guy she’s talking about, but likely me) to show her affection. A lighthearted guitar riff amid handclapping was the perfect complement to her piano and angelic voice.
New Heights, the second track, is counted off by one of the band members (their names are at this point unknown to me) before breaking into the track, with a renewed vigor on a slightly different tone of the track before it. A funky bass line follows her every word (as I did) into what I would call one of my favorite sounding choruses on the album.
I feel like Swan Song, the sixth track, was a hard one to write. Even asking “how could the words turn so ugly?” to the songs recipient. It’s one of the first tracks in a while where you can feel the difficulty of what the artist is going through. Musically it’s a simpler track, with the piano taking the main stage, as it should for a song of this weight. If I wasn’t so hardcore, I would cry at the painful nostalgia it brings back.
Yes the drum work on Elements (the booming bass drum in particular) was phenomenal, and the lovely bridge-to-breakdown in World Without (at about 2:25 to around 3:07) had me hooked, but still, the tenth track, Stood Up has reigned supreme on my playlist for over two months now.
Most of you would guess right away that the ill bass guitar throughout would be the first giveaway at why I love this song. But besides that, the subject matter of Stood Up seems to be about a revolution, that only a couple is a part of, but to which more will join soon. Standing up when you and someone else are the only underdogs together is something I know too well. Musically, there’s a plethora of sounds flying about, but it’s beautiful. The staggered timing of the song made me think of something that the RX Bandits would come up with, only with more soul. This song will for sure be on my list of best tracks of 2009 when I make that list later on in the year. Better yet, ten bucks says it’ll be featured in a movie in the near future…it’s that good.
As I’ve said before in other reviews, sophomore albums are critical to the success of artists today. And as my people would say, Ms. Sudol ‘kilt’ this shit, and I don’t mean 17th century Scotland either ya’ll.
A special thanks to Heidi over at EMI for giving me this album to enjoy ahead of time. As stated above, Bomb in a Birdcage is out today, but since I already own it, you’ll have to get me something else for my birthday.
Until next time my friends,