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Imogen Heap - Ellipse Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.25
Production 8.75
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8.75
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 8.94
Lyrics 8.69
Production 9.31
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.13
Reviewer Tilt 9.31
Average: 92%
Inside AP.net

Imogen Heap - Ellipse

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (08/26/09)
Imogen Heap - Ellipse
Record Label: RCA/Megaphonic
Release Date: Aug. 25, 2009


What can be said about the breathy, reflective British chanteuse Imogen Heap, that hasn't already been written? She's poignant, she's dreamy, she's enigmatic, she's sensual, she's delicate. And that's only skimming the surface. On her third album, Ellipse, the Grammy nominated songwriter once again continues her take on serene, keyboard-fueled, tech-rock, but this time goes for something even more ambitious. Recorded in various locations Japan, Hawaii, Fiji, Thailand, China, England Ellipse draws on her continent-hopping travels, making for her most wide-ranging effort to date. Compiled mostly via her own GarageBand software, the album serves as an example of her profound professionalism and her always pristine production work. Her varied subjects include the self-depricating inner diatribe "Bad Body Double," to the post-relationship doldrums on "Wait it Out." A born romantic and a keen observer, Heap flaunts her eye for detail throughout the disc, often revealing her innate ability to break down human interaction to its simplest form. On the xylophone-laced "Little Bird," she chimes, "Orange juice, concentrate, crossword puzzles start to grate," pondering the ho-hum happenstance of everyday life.

As one would expect, the disc is not without its quirky moments. Like an extended member of Bjork's family, Heap seems to do things that veer way left of normal. There's a decidedly Afro-Caribbean arrangement on the syncopated, multi-vocal effort "Earth," and an Asian tinge on the spartan "2-1." Her always obtuse lyrics are once again prone to beffudlement, most especially on "Between Sheets," where she sings "The many windswept stickies of the mind are the molten emotional frontline." Cute rhyme, but what the hell does that mean? And yet for all her pecadillos, she still manages to find a way to be commercial, viable and relatable.

Lead single "First Train Home," features electric beats, a soaring melody and an inviting texture that's ornate and delicate, while the album's second single "Canvas," is a focused study in air-tight production, that features a heavy dose of loops patterned against a veneer of tinkling piano. The ebullient and effusive "Swoon," is a touching ballad on blossoming love, that seems to be a shoe-in for a movie soundtrack. Though she's prone to overusing the vocoder effect, she also knows when to keep it minimal. Proof of this is the affecting closer "Half Life," which may arguably be one of the best song's she's ever released. While there's no runaway single, as there was with 2005's "Hide and Seek," that should not diminish the 13 songs offered here. After all, she had to bid 10 million British pounds to buy back a promotional copy of this disc, after an overzealous phone posted it on E-Bay. Is the disc that good? No. Not really. But it's still something worth celebrating.

A bigger draw in America than her native England, Heap has used social networking sites to maximize her exposure, often posting video podcasts of works in progress, and communicating with fans via message boards. While it's unclear as to whether fan input had anything to do with the making of Ellipse, one thing is for certain, when it comes to bittersweet, wistful, atmospheric melodies, few, if any are better than her. More than eleven years into a career spent writing sedate, melancholic laments, she's as well-established and well-regarded as one could hope for. Long live the bird-nest coif.

Track Listing 1. First Train Home
2. Wait it Out
3. Earth
4. Little Bird
5. Swoon
6. Tidal
7. Between Sheets
8. 2-1
9. Bad Body Double
10. A-Ha!
11. The Fire
12. Canvas
13. Half-Life


Recommended If You Like Olivia Broadfield, Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Bjork, Joydrop


Find Her Here Myspace
Website
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 46
01:28 PM on 08/26/09
#2
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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I love her so much! Nice review, I really adore this album. Oh, and she just bought a Telsa haha, so cute.

01:54 PM on 08/26/09
#3
tpnations
Tired and wired we ruin too easy...
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I'll have to check this out. After finally giving her last album a shot it really grew on me.
02:06 PM on 08/26/09
#4
mushroom
I Knew Alfred J Prufrock
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Canvas is perhaps the best song she's ever written.
02:48 PM on 08/26/09
#5
princesschad
sowing season
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aoty contender for me.
06:00 PM on 08/26/09
#6
BozzBlonde
adieuxmusic.bandcamp.com
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I really love Imogen Heap's music. I'm waiting for the entire album to grow on me.. First Train Home has definitely sunk in though. It's pretty much on repeat. Good review also. :)
07:31 PM on 08/26/09
#7
crotheian
Swah!!!
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Ellipse is such a beautiful album! I can't stop listening to it...
08:19 PM on 08/26/09
#8
ZeoVGM
PINK WIG, THICK ASS.
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This is currently one of the top 5 albums put out in 2009.
10:17 PM on 08/26/09
#9
cereal4life
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I love her so much! Nice review, I really adore this album. Oh, and she just bought a Telsa haha, so cute.

Looks like she's living the rockstar life now!

And what a review, Greg! I always have a dictionary on hand when I'm reading books by authors who have a far more extensive vocabulary than my own. You're the only reviewer on this site who I need to use that same approach with. An informative review and I've learned some new words. Wahoo!

I'm really looking forward to listening to this album, too. Can't wait!
02:35 AM on 08/27/09
jtjt43
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Canvas is perhaps the best song she's ever written.
It's definitely my favourite song off Ellipse right now.
04:41 AM on 08/27/09
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Looks like she's living the rockstar life now!

And what a review, Greg! I always have a dictionary on hand when I'm reading books by authors who have a far more extensive vocabulary than my own. You're the only reviewer on this site who I need to use that same approach with. An informative review and I've learned some new words. Wahoo!

I'm really looking forward to listening to this album, too. Can't wait!
Thank you for the kind words. I can be pretty coruscate sometimes, but it's the only way I know how to write. Cheers, mate.
07:47 AM on 08/27/09
highfidelity203
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Great review. I need to give this album another couple of listens though because upon first impression I wasn't feeling it as much as her last effort. Some of the songs indulge her weirder side too much for me.
12:06 PM on 08/27/09
Keagan Ilvonen
@KeaganIlvonen
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Album is fantastic!
12:38 PM on 08/27/09
Jeff_Ryan
easy come and easy go, whatever
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she's an unbelievably talented musician
05:54 PM on 08/27/09
:-)
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Canvas is perhaps the best song she's ever written.
Agreed.

I prefer Speak For Yourself to Ellipse but they're both beautiful nonetheless. Great review.
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