Most of the time reviewing records isn't the same experience as consuming music; I realise this might sound a bit counterintuitive, but usually you're scrabbling around for an appropriate metaphor to describe the latest Alex Turner aphorism, or attempting to understand why so many people thought Dirty Pretty Things were any good. Every so often however something arrives that isn't loaded with unfulfilled expectations, a release asking only for an open mind and with pure hearted simplicity, it allows you unplug from the whole reviewing music thing. Despite having too many vowels for it's own good, Emiliana Torrini's Me and Armini is one of those musical red squirrels.
Whilst the Icelandic/Italian's name may not be too familiar, you've probably heard her work, either in person providing vocals for Gollum's Song from Lord of The Rings episode The Two Towers, or as a collaborator by writing the 2005 hit Slow for no less than the Aussie diva midget Kylie Minogue. Usually when Iceland is even mentioned people either recall the earth-mother lunacy of Bjork or the ethereal meanderings of Sigur Ros, but neither of these yardsticks are valid in summing up Me and Armini's charms.
Co-produced with Dan Carey (Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand), the emphasis is on accessibility whilst retaining some of the oddball aesthetic of her former chums Gus Gus. Thus weaving between styles, Torrini's voice is a mixture of breathy scandavian drench and clipped anglicisation, most obviously on the reggae-overtoned title track. Elsewhere the mood shifts between downtempo acoustic pop (Closer Bleeder, the smothered samba of Hold Heart), grinding dub-rock (Gun) and bumptious Year Six effervescence (Big Jumps). The magpie genre pick and mix could easily have become annoying, but only on the nervous, never quite together Jungle Drum does experimentation cross the border into daffy pointlessness. Not the most appropriate comparison but probably the best, think of a pre-R&B Nelly Furtado scoffing rotten shark and wittering on about being a bird. Oh, and it's a great record.