Imogen Heap – Ellipse

We seem to have been struck with an influx of female singer/songwriters doing this electro-pop thing in the last few months, haven’t we? It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if there wasn’t so little substance to be had from them, so it’s great to have Imogen Heap’s new album to comfort us when La Roux’s hairdo wakes us up at night in a cold sweat. It’s been 4 years since her last album Speak For Yourself propelled her into the global conciousness, and whilst it has been a while, it definitely seems like time well spent. What we have here is a more cohesive, consistent album that feels relevant and, above all, real.

Not a hell of a lot’s changed, really. Imogen still has her warbles (you know, that thing when she goes “dayy-oh” with a sudden wobble), its still pleasingly catchy without being stunningly accessible and the lyrical content hasn’t veered to drastically from the relationships that littered Speak For Yourself. Heap has just written a much more consistent album; it seems to flow much better than her last effort, and there are fewer weak points (read: the singles). First Train Home, the album’s opener drifts over the listener like the intended aftermath of a drunken mistake, Little Bird barely raises above a whisper but still packs some stunning melodies and Tidal lives up to its name with an impressive but not forced crescendo.

There are some nits to be picked, however. No singer, no matter how talented can pull off singing “La-dayeee-aayyeeoh”, as Imogen does in Swoon. These warbles are, of course, a big part of Imogen’s music but ocassionaly they do grate. Still, it’s a minor gripe, as Ellipse is great album. It’s the sound of an artist developing on her success and making an involving, enjoyable yet relevant follow-up to her breakthrough. Speak For Yourself sold half a million copies, and somehow I doubt she’ll repeat that here, simply because Ellipse isn’t as commercial an album. You never know, though; first single First Train Home might hit the radios as hard as Hide And Seek did a few years ago. Either way, Heap deserves every success coming her way with Ellipse. Take note, youthful female singer/songwriters with a penchant for electro; Imogen Heap’s better than you.

8/10

Here’s her video for Canvas. Enjoy!

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