A FINE FRENZY > Bomb in a Birdcage

finefrenzy

A FINE FRENZY

Bomb in a Birdcage

(VIRGIN)

[Rating: 4 stars]

A Fine Frenzy, a.k.a. the red-headed songbird Alison Sudol, releases her second album this September. Picture that broken-hearted girl from AFF’s radio gem, “Almost Lover,” kicking that tune-inspiring loser to the curb and getting on with her life: now you’ve got the makings of Bomb in a Birdcage. The new AFF sound is more buoyant. We hear a resilient Sudol. There’s a fresh energy in her vocals, and the progressive, electric arrangements of the songs shows an evolution of artistry. Opener “I Wouldn’t Do” commences not with Sudol’s piano, as on most of 2007’s One Cell in the Sea, but with an acoustic guitar, hand percussion and whistling. Yes, whistling. Gone is the doleful Sudol. But languishing listeners take heart—there are a few low-spirited songs. “Swan Song” and “Elements” are a drag, albeit beautiful ones. But the majority of the tracks pick up. “Electric Twist,” the disc’s most adventurous, employs a throwback ‘80s dance-synth sound and should emerge as a favorite. It’s perfectly quirky and oh so whimsical. “Stood Up” is a resolute anthem that shows a bolder side of Ms. Sudol. “Happier,” with lyrics articulated robotically in the verses and, by contrast, connected and sweeping in the chorus, sums up Bomb succinctly: “What a transformation to be whole.” Indeed!

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