1996: Intersound 9175
This is a tough one. Theres such a jumble of quality levels here in terms of production, performance, and songcraft, that its impossible for me to say I like it or dislike it overall. Because its BETTY, and because Im an enthusiast at heart, Im inclined to give it a thumbs-up but with provisos aplenty rather than to convey the impression that its a mediocre album with a lot going for it.
The biggest problem with this album, other than harmonic imprecision (Amy Ziffs chord-topping soprano leans ever-so-slightly to the sharp side sometimes, to the flat side at others, and Alyson Palmers alto tends to drift ever-so-slightly flat, resulting in chords that are slightly wider than they should be), is that it drags. Its just a little too slow, on every track. BETTY eventually have rectified this slowness and honed their sound with a beefier and tighter band, but the outlook from Limboland wasnt good. The over-production and reliance on electronica also coats many of these tracks with a syrupy samenessecho effects, synths, programmed drums, and passionlessly consistent pacing homogenize things to the point where these songs simply arent distinct from each other.
That many of the songss lyrics and melodies arent particularly memorable or notable contributes to the feeling of sameness that pervades. Again, however, there are plenty of exceptions: Metro is a sneaky little devil and gets under your skin enjoyably before you notice it, Houdini would be perfect if it werent for the aforementioned harmony problem (and if it were just a hair faster), Heaven is a lovely song when its taken alone, and Impossibly Blue is probably the best piece of songwriting on the album and gets a quite moving treatment (with the usual caveats). Two Cherries seems like its trying to be two different things and cant quite commit to either, which is frustrating because it has a loveliness about it which remains unrealized.
As for the two cover versions, Windy is pretty gooda fine arrangement and only the tempo/pitch issues flawing it, but The In Crowd really suffers from the latter, to the point where I cant hear if the arrangements particularly good.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.