posted on September 07, 2009 19:00
Often beautiful with delicate vocals yet at times infected by cretinism lyrically, Ellipse is a mixed affair. The album is littered with whispy harmonies with keyboards, cellos, clarinets and whatever chopped up cuts and beats were left in the studio, Heap doesn’t make it easy for the listener and the album takes at least 3 listens to get any sort of feeling from it. The drivel that served up as lyrics doesn’t help either.
The Cluas Verdict?: 4.5/10
“First Train Home” opens with cool velvet vocals. It has immediate appeal with its snappy verse and catchy chorus. It’s a winner and casts no doubt over the decision to have the track as lead single. However there was more than a sniff of a mid - nineties Donna Lewis hit in the chorus melody. “Wait it Out” follows, a track dominated by keyboards and a combination of different instruments, the layered vocals help to make it a catchy number. The hopping "hmms" and “do dos” and soft keys however make the song sound like it’s been deliberately written for a shampoo advert. It’s not bad. “Earth” is next, and it’s a jab at a conceited house guest, lover or whatever…..lyrically it’s a bit pretentious given the subject matter and the high-low keys and harmonies give more than a hint of that castle bound billionaire Enya. That’s a straight red card in this reviewer’s eyes.
It gets worse. Lyrically “Little bird” is like a first year English students one page essay describing various imagery in different rooms in a house as seen by a (you’ve guessed it) Little Bird. It’s over the top, and deliberate attempts at ambiguity based on a clear and simple situation just make Heap sound like a fresher eager to please the lecturer.
“Little bird, little bird, little bird,
Where are they now?
Day time tv lounge
A carriage clock, a mantle piece
A family wiped up, j cloth cleaned
Unsaid, festers in the throws of the sofa”
It’s turgid. Maybe I don’t get it but at this point I am thinking Heap should do an Elton John. Find a decent lyricist and concentrate fully on the musical aspects. It would serve her well as the next track “Swoon” illustrates the other end of the scale.
“Your name in lights vibrating to your ring tone, my world begins to dance”. The bouncing dated sounding sampled beats make it a tired affair. The repeated verse through out goes as follows:
“Let me be the great Scott
Tip top pit stop in your ocean
I could be the shipmate's wife
Got you down and dirty with the lotion!”
Enough said on this. It is with open arms this reviewer welcomes the opening sound of “Tidal”. The song opens with grand strings before quickly retreating behind a quiet gentle voice. Alas, it’s more of the same whimsical boring melody and bland keyboard backing track. “Between Sheets” depicts the blissful careless scene of two lovers. Lyrically it’s an improvement however the tune is forgettable and passes without incident.
“2-1” comes next. The song apparently is named after the ratio of water to pollyfilla in the making of pollyfilla. Absolute genius. Dylan is sh*tting himself. The thing about Heap is, lyrics seem to mean a lot to her and each track tries to tell a story of sorts. However, she is a rubbish lyricist in this reviewer’s opinion. The lyrics come across as basic and there is nothing wrong with basic. If basic is what you are going for. Two minute pop songs are fine with short basic easy lyrics. However it is all out of shape with Heap. The lyrics are sung with purpose but not since Oasis' second record has this reviewer heard such ridiculously rubbish lyrics sang over a half decent tune with such purpose.
“Aha” and the awful “Bad Body Double” (which is like a Phoebe from Friend’s effort) depicting a “fun” look at self loathing drag this record on. A surprisingly bright instrumental “Fire” and “Canvas”, perhaps the finest song on the album lead the album to the forgettable “Half Life” and it’s all over. Heap may think she is a poetic tuneful revelation but on this offering she appears nothing more than a pretentious Dido Armstrong sound alike. And with Grammy nominations and 12 years in the business under her belt she should be doing a lot better. No doubt the masses will love it. It’ll sell like cheap loo roll in a recession but this record for my money is lazy, unimaginative and dated already.