Artist: A Fine Frenzy
Album: Bomb in a Birdcage
Three years ago, a beautiful and hauntingly melodic young woman named Alison Sudol burst onto the national music scene with her record, One Cell In The Sea, under the name A Fine Frenzy. The response from the public was overwhelming and soon it was near impossible to go anywhere without hearing the big single, “Almost Lover.” Now at 27, Sudol is returning once again with Bomb in A Birdcage which takes the simplistic pop beauty of her initial record and adds a thick layer of well evolved sound and even a healthy dose of pop sensibilities to create what may just be the best album of the year.
Beginning on an entirely more light hearted foot than the last record left off, Bomb in A Birdcage comes to us with “Wouldn’t Do,” a bright acoustic number with a lot of heart. Sudol’s voice radiates like that of angel with just another effect added to make it linger until it seeps into your being. Just as the song ends and we think perhaps our indie princess has gone more mainstream folk, we’re given the more chamber like “New Heights” to show Sudol brining even more brilliant variety [that really works] to the plate. This happens repeatedly on the album actually as “Electric Twist” seems drawn from a million 80’s idols and “Blow Away” is nothing short of top 40 pop gold. Even in the back half of the record, “World Without” radiates with Straylgiht Run like tones and “Stood Up” feels pulled from a new wave meets jazz fusion act that focused on having a sound similar to an 80’s hair metal act. It’s all over the place, but still so perfectly woven together that each track feels meant to be on the album. It’s both refreshing and intriguing to see Sudol, in the course of two albums, scour the musical landscape as much as she does by even the halfway point on this record. It’s truly magical.
For those of you looking for the more dark and/or haunting sounds we found more frequently on the first album, you will be just as satisfied as those who find a passion for the new material. Specifically within the closer, Beacon, fans of the older sound will find a place to fall in love. This haunting track about the parting of a loved one and dealing with their wishes to leave the Earth is simply heart rendering. In fact, I had to stop while writing this review to simply listen not once, but two times to Sudol’s timeless voice as she pierced me very being with her genious storytelling and ability to truly create a scene for the listener. It’s by far her best song to date and leaves you both sad over the material just discussed and the fact the record has ended.
Alison Sudol may be the most talent singer/songwriter working today and anyone doubting that fact needs to hear even just 30 seconds of any song of Bomb In A Birdcage to realize their error. Her once haunting voice has flourished into an undefinable and moving force that seems unstoppable. In fact, I dare say Bomb in a Birdcage is the closest thing to a perfect pop and/or indie album you will find this year. It’s beautiful and moving while walking the fine line between simplistic and lush with more ease than most can fathom. It’s simply wonderful.