Lisa Papineau
"Night Moves"

(Reincarnate Music 2006)Lisa Papineau - Night Moves

I think there may be a general feeling in the air that electronica and its offspring cannot deliver the goods when it comes to sincere songwriting and emotional flexibility. Stevie Wonder was probably one of the first when it came to proving that accusation false, by using his soulful introspection, his voice, and his knowledge of the synthesizer to the ultimate limit. With Lisa Papineau's "Night Moves" (Bob Seger reference?), a lot of the carefully constructed dance beats add up to an ambiguous experience for the listener. Portishead is probably the best comparison, and that detached and somewhat emotionally deconstructed vocal sound is of the same kind.

For traditional rock fans, the first listen to this album may not excite much of an emotional response, but repeated listens demonstrate the contrary reaction. There certainly is a lot of emotion in this album, but you probably have to dig for it a bit. The club feeling this music intimates will strike ears differently, depending on your taste. You'll either love or hate what transpires with all the synthesizers, the drumbeats, and the distorted guitars that create a kind of "wall of sound," to borrow that Phil Spector classification.

There definitely are melodies here, if you can finally get used to all the post progressive experimentalism. "Power and Glory" is the first tune to really pull you into that meditative trance that this music is probably best at invoking. This one really soothes your consciousness a bit, with all the gentle sounding keyboards playing simple sounding melodies that do exactly what they're meant to do; relax you. "The Quiet Storm" is the first truly upbeat song, which at the same time doesn't drag out a huge and boring buildup of noise to finally get to the stupid point, as the first two songs are apt to do, both "Out to You" and "Shucking, Jiving." "The End of You" features the first semi acoustic sounding keyboard, which is a welcome relief after all the obnoxious noise making previous to it. And the melody is definitely ballad-like enough to welcome you into its warm sounding chambers of sound.

Now "Lp Beat" might be the first truly great song on this, well...LP. The handclaps are a welcome human distraction, which really makes the song palatable to ears which hunger for something intimate and emotionally reassuring. The melody is pretty, and the lyrics have that romantically, haunting, soul searching quality, with eloquent ruminations on life, fate, and this huge world where all those concepts are at home in.

If the album doesn't exactly draw you in and make you trust the music from the beginning, you can definitely make it through the second half without feeling a bit cheated by the idea that Papineau's trying really hard to impress you with her technical savvy. "Lp Beat" is definitely that point in the album where everything else sails smoothly. You'd think you were listening to a Norah Jones album at this point, with that downbeat rhythm section, tinkling piano, and smooth husky vocals. "Call me Frenchy" has that Portishead-esque, dark ballad, dramatic love affair quality that brings out those more primal emotions that we can probably all relate like that feeling of wanting to truly connect with another. "Diamonds and Pearls" has that bare, electric guitar picking sound, plus those breathy vocals that draw you in with a feminine sensitivity that only a talented female vocalist could induce.

Lisa Papineau's "Night Moves" is a mixture of the genuine and the slightly too mechanical. Approach with caution but give it a chance. You will probably feel a bit more rewarded than you'd expect to feel from the beginning.

B-

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