Yep – the sound of this summer alright: soggy, uninspiring and almost completely forgettable. There is no avoiding it; ex-Luscious Jackson vocalist/bassist Jill Cunniff’s first solo album is a stinker. Drippy vocals wrapped up in limp ’street beats’ and samples, with slick but mindless production. All the more disappointing as she’s been around the block and should know better – though I can’t say I’m a Luscious Jackson fan either. This sounds like an easily-led Pop Idol runner-up beaten into generic vaguely R’n’B / AOR solo girl shape by some domineering producer. It’s got no balls, or heart.

Only Warm Sound affords a hint of real atmosphere with a chilled groove and a vaguely interesting delivery – granted, the vocals are lush and melodic throughout. Apartment 3 has a tune that lingers in an 80’s James Bond soundtrack kind of way. The rest you’ll probably only hear behind some picture montage in One Tree Hill or some similar glossy twaddle – an edgy (NOT!) moral dilemma (Eye Candy) or boy bemoaning lost girl sequence (practically any of the others). Luscious Jackson have announced plans to reunite and are apparently recording a new album of songs for children. With the lyrics on display here, they may be right on track: “When it gets tough / Pick yourself up / And don’t give up” – Happy Warriors; “Can you hear the future call / We’re tearing down the shopping mall” – Future Call.

Yes, it gets that bad. Future Call brings back echoes of the ’futuristic’ Mad Max nightmare that was Duran Duran’s Wild Boys. In fact the whole album sounds dated and somehow subdued. I don’t know why I’m wasting so much time telling you all this, and I’m distraught that Emmylou Harris has been dragged into the mire – appearing on the last track Disconnection. There are two bonus tracks. Personally, I do not consider that a bonus.

I like unashamed pop done well (which actually raises it far above the mindless of course) as much as the next person, more so than the average TLOBF reader I’ll wager, but this has no spark. For a slice of something that actually succeeds in the genre, check out The Katydids eponymous poptastic classic from 1989, or the classy Lucky Soul from earlier this year. That’s still the sound of my summer. The percentage score only reflects the fact that it is so innocuous as to fail to even stir up any emotion of hatred either, and that I could just about hear Emmylou’s harmonies for a few seconds. Vacuous pap of the worst order – avoid.

Jill Cunniff [
official site] [myspace]