This is a great idea, this album. Zac Pennington's coldly, chillingly close-to-the-bone, androgynously written-and-delivered lyrics atop a background of sumptuous pop-classicalism arrangements oozing like some sort of strangled 1950s housewife's radio, Lolita and Bacharach all in one, ravished on the patio or the front lawn. A great *idea*, but sadly only mediocrely (is that a word?) realized.I was really looking forward to this record. The prospect of it was introduced so wonderfully, with â€˜A Song For Ellie Greenwich', in all its â€˜Close To You'-envoking urgency. And what's more I'd just finally gotten â€˜Safe As Houses', Entanglements
' at-times-unspeakably-magnificent predecessor, having been in love with â€˜Love Connection Part II' for ages and ages and ages. â€˜Safe As Houses', for the unaware, is a *really* amazing, mostly worth getting for the songs on it where it really, really works, like the aforementioned â€˜Love Connection', and â€˜I Was A Dancer' and closer â€˜Stolen Children' as well, but also the rest of it is really good... but I guess I still figured it was a record they could improve upon, you know. Shifting like, the entire musical approach of the band from Xiu Xiu-style avant-glitch-pop sort of stuff (only I guess when the â€˜pop' part of that hit, it hit in a different way) to the lavish chamber-pop arrangements found here seemed only a step in the right direction.When Pennington's words hit on â€˜Safe As Houses' they really *hit*, in a, well like I say above, chillingly close-to-the-bone way. A concept album about mothers' relationships with their daughters, lines like "I was the dancer / My head filled with laughter / And then the disaster / You came sometime after"
made me collapse into myself on trains and stuff, they're just... *right there*, you know. Sadly on Entanglements
, nothing stands out quite as much. Well, maybe there's *something* there at work on â€˜Ellie Greenwich', but... its not as eminently quotable, its all in the delivery. And yet most of the songs here are built around Pennington's lyrics, often at the expense of musical hooks- the arrangements just sort of track what he's doing, which would be fine if what he was singing in that strained, feminised mewl was as powerful as most of what he sung on â€˜Safe As Houses', but... its just not. Maybe if I had a lyrics sheet to pour over I could pick out some really powerful lines, but that's moot point, because on record- *its just not* (do proper copies of this album come with a lyric sheet? Oh like any reviewer *really* knows what's going on with packaging nowadays). I mean at first it sounds like its working- opener â€˜Four Words' is a joy, for example, and sometimes a part of the arrangements will really hit where everything opens up and it all seems alright again, and â€˜Ellie Greenwich' is still amazing, if somewhat anachronistic in amongst the altogether somewhat more mild-mannered songs on most of the record, but by the time you're halfway through (or, well, the halfway through that isn't â€˜Ellie Greenwich', that is), its just a little *dull*. Which is pretty unfortunate for a record that's only 32 minutes long.Entanglements
is nowhere close to being a bad record. It has some very good moments and a theoretically perfect sound all of its own. Its just that it seems, in perfecting this perfect, *perfect* sound, Pennington and co forgot to write a record's worth of good songs. Oops.68%Parenthetical Girls on MySpace