Dani Siciliano’s career is intertwined with her partner Matthew Herbert, who has already released the best album of the year (Scale, in May) and shares production duties here with the singer. Siciliano has appeared on nearly all of Herbert’s records, and her music when not produced by Herbert still sounds enough like his work to know he was at least there in spirit. That’s not to say that Siciliano gets overshadowed on Slappers, her second solo record. Unlike her work with Herbert, or even her debut, 2004’s Likes, the album is remarkably tight vocal dance pop. Only half of the eleven songs top four minutes, and none of them make it past five, so there’s little musical wandering through this playground.
Still, the focus on Siciliano’s voice is welcome, because even though she will never carry the kind of power a truly great singer can wield, her emotional output gets stronger each year. On Slappers, her voice demands our attention more than ever before. “They Can Wait” is a coy, humming mood piece, a great example of the personality she can display. Not everything is rosy, though, and the lack of a standout track makes it harder to forgive the down points. The beginning of “Frozen” sounds suspiciously like Massive Attack’s “Angel,” only to find a misguided Beth Orton-like vocal performance underneath it. “Big Time” starts out promisingly, stacking Siciliano’s voice on top of a great puttering beat, but the melody becomes monotonous and outlives its welcome.
Too much of Likes seemed unsure of its place; it was alternately loud and abstract, soft and poppy. Slappers is a much more unified, low-key whole, and it’s both stronger and weaker for it. On the whole, it’s better than its predecessor. But without those great moments, this simple, often entertaining record will most likely be forgotten. For Herbert fans, this is worth picking up. But for great, sexy, off-kilter electronic, stick with Scale.
Label: http://www.k7.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/danisiciliano