It's a bad idea to start a record with a dreamy, summery song and then follow it with a poor vocal demonstration. It's an even worse idea to name your album after a song that contains something that falls under the latter category.
Eleni Mandell's fifth full-length is generally a pleasant listen that undoubtedly draws inspiration from her idol and friend, Tom Waits, as well as little hints of the oft-compared PJ Harvey. (Hey, who doesn't sound like PJ Harvey these days?) But what Harvey has that Mandell does not is the ability to sound raw and aggressive while remaining on-key.
To her credit, Mandell writes perfectly decent alt.-folk-country songs and has the hypothetical balls not to represent female musicians in the stereotypically "pop" way. At times, however, it seems as though she's rushed through her songs out of boredom, causing her singing quality to sound a bit like karaoke-style talk-singing in contrast to the lazy-day guitar strums that grace her record.
That said, there's no reason why Afternoon won't help Mandell build a fanbase -- considering the genre it's in, the album sounds (appropriately) Los Angeles, and were the token album-killers removed (namely "Afternoon" and "Let's Drive Away," which I will fearlessly shoot down), this could actually be a fairly decent record.
Of course, some caffeine-free tea might be of assistance to her well-being.
Homepage (including four songs from Afternoon.
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