A dreadful pile of over-processed, overloaded frippery, or a work of genius?
Lucy Davies 2009-07-31
Complete Me is the debut album from producer Vincent Frank, who's remixed songs by the likes of Mika, the Pet Shop boys, and CSS.
He's come up with a collection of heavily-processed arrangements, continuing the current 80s omnipresence in pop. You can almost hear the mixing desk groaning under layer upon layer of synthetic excess. But while this is definitely an acquired taste, there are several moments of pure joy. After all, there's always a place for throwaway, throwaboutable pop.
Highlights include When You're Around, which plays around with the Strangler's Golden Brown organ; the ridiculously infectious single 3 Little Words, with trad electric guitar solo and off-beat breakdown; Better Off As Two is similarly buoyant, backed up by a clever little sample. But sadly, Wonder Woman is a slightly ill-advised song that sounds as though Frank is suggesting his mum puts her feet up and reads Take a Break magazine.
Frank's vocals are at their best when most effortless, like the verse of Better Off As Two and 3 little Words. Straight out of the Mika vocal stable, Frank's falsetto and frequently audible struggle can err on the side of shouting, meaning all the instrumentation needs to be cranked up in order to normalize it. The thoughtful ballad Complete Me is an example, with some perfectly nice moments of vocal and piano but also a synth bassline gradually building up to a chorus where he finally reaches hernia inducing pitches where angels fear to tread.
Time Will Tell is another strange one, the bassline lurching along with the drums for a perfect seasickness simulator. With some happy hardcore 'put the needle on the record' loops slapped on top, it's definitely a new sound... But then to redress the balance, Confusion Girl is a laid back, happy, huge sounding pop song.
It's actually quite hard to decide whether Complete Me is a dreadful pile of over-processed, overloaded frippery, or if it's a work of genius. It could purely come down to whether you've got the stomach for it.