Friday, February 27, 2009

Single: Bell - "Magic Tape"

Single: Magic Tape
Twosyllable Records, 2009
Rating: ****** (6/10)

Classical trained pianist turned indie-electro vocalist, Olga Bell has received quite a bit of critical praise over the last year. Her dark, atmospheric songs are perhaps what any of the last decade's Top 40 pop stars would sound like if their IQ were magically doubled. In that sense, it's understandable why she's frequently compared to Bjork, the other oddball female singer who has walked the line between pop and "WTF?" (albeit in a rather different direction).

Her new single, "Magic Tape," released this week, will be featured on her forthcoming 7" on Twosyllable Records. The record deal marks important stride for her and her band, whose only album to date was recorded partly in bedrooms, painstakingly produced with minimal resources and finally self-released early last year.

Unfortunately, from this single, it looks like all the praise and progress might be going to the band's head - the song's self-aware strangeness is rather over the top. Bell, you don't need to try so hard! We all get it! You're weird!

On the other hand, you have to admire the band's refusal to stay in any given time signature or key signature for more than a few bars. The song never settles into anything comforting and its repeated jarring is engaging on an intellectual level. It would nice to see this approach with a little more restraint in the sound bank, though, just something to tone it down enough that listeners will be able to focus.

Have some faith in us, Bell! We are paying attention!