Mix Tape Therapy’s Gotta-Have Track: First Train Home
First things first: I’m a big Frou Frou fan and I adored Imogen Heap’s breakout record, Speak for Yourself. So this is when I start getting nervous for an artist, because so many flounder at this pulse point in their career. While Ellipse is technically not her sophomore effort (first was I Megaphone, and then came Speak for Yourself), it might as well be for us, her American audience.
Happy to report that Imogen masterfully avoids the “sophomore slump,” creating an ethereal, electropop record which takes the best elements of her Frou Frou and Speak for Yourself success and brings it to the next level.
What exactly do I mean by that?
Well, for starters, if you dug Heap’s use of a cappella on such hits as “Hide and Seek,” you’ll find that again on this album, through singles such as “Earth,” along with lush, symphonically-styled laptop numbers such as “Canvas” and “2-1.” Many don’t know that Heap is a classically trained pianist, and while she highlighted her ivory-tickling talent on I-Megaphone, we haven’t really heard much of that until this record. On Ellipse, Heap brings her piano back without allowing it to consume the harmonic, light-as-air arrangements on tracks such as “Half-Life,” “Between Sheets,” and “The Fire.” The results are hypnotic and transcendental without becoming an electropop cliché.
That all said, what Heap fans really come for is her voice…those androgynous, silk-smooth pipes which sound like no one else in the business. She’s an original voice in a oxygen-deprived, overly produced genre – and with Ellipse, Ms. Imogen has given us a reason to believe she’s with us for the long haul.
I give Imogen Heap’s Ellipse a 4 out of 5 bitch slaps.