It's all you can do not to leap into the Atlantic and start swimming.
Jaime Gill 2008-09-05
Is it possible that Iceland's entire pop industry is actually a brilliant scam by their tourist board? Put on records by Sigur Ros, early Bjork or Emiliana Torrini – with their gleaming intelligence, playful strangeness and raptures in the face of nature – and it's all you can do not to leap into the Atlantic and start swimming north west immediately.
This third record by Emiliana Torrini (best known here for writing one of Kylie Minogue's best and most unusual songs, Slow) is no exception. On first landing, the simple, stripped down instrumentation – often little more than Torrini's crystalline voice, a guitar and understated keyboards - seem perhaps a little too languid and sparse, even a little samey. But an extended stay reveals sharp jolts of beauty, delicate little flourishes and unexpected oddities hidden in the apparently simple song structures.
Just listen to the way the gentle ska skip of Heard It All Before gradually picks up pace, ending in a feverish strum that perfectly replicates the lyrical self-flaggelation. Or how the acoustic, pastoral Birds literally takes flight at its end, carried aloft on a bank of gorgeously multitracked harmonies. Most unusually of all, listen to Dead Duck which is less a song than a reverie, all tricksy guitar motifs lost in softly buzzing synths, sounding much like criminally neglected nineties band Butterfly Child.
Not that Torrini can't do direct. Opener Fireheads may be a little too close to Jack Johnson cosiness to really impress, but the reggae-tinged single Me And Armini is full of melancholy, sad-eyed charm and Big Jumps is a warm, huggable kitten of a song. You'll want to revisit them repeatedly, finding something new each time.
Sometimes love is like a bomb exploding: sudden and dramatic, it leaves you reeling. But sometimes it creeps up as stealthily as spring, slowly warming your bones. These are the loves that tend to last, and Me And Armini is one of them.