Someone told me that this was the first album to combine pop music and jungle. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but Everything But The Girl’s formula is seamless. Not really abandoning their acoustic roots, this is instead a maturation, an evolution of that sound. The beats add propulsion and motion, while the traditional instruments maintain the warmth. Above it all hover’s Tracey Thorn’s sensuous vocals.
Lyrically, the album is a mature look at desire, longing, broken relationships, and the grey areas of romance. Sometimes harsh, sometimes inviting, Thorn sings with an emotion resulting from either unrequited love or a stalker mentality. The result are songs that never come across as trite or trivial.
“Single” has a great Massive Attack vibe to it, both warm and bleak, with hollow distant beats providing a balance to Thorn’s lush vocals. The soaring ambient textures on “Walking Wounded” add to the pathos in Thorn’s voice as she sings “Out amongst the walking wounded, every face on every train is you and me and him and her/Some days I think I could go insane.” “Mirrorball” has a subtle R&B feel to it. The album’s best song is “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” where Thorn sings “It’s wrong to feel this way/I know it’s wrong, I know it’s bad/To only see what isn’t there/To want and want and never have” with a sense of quiet desperation that’s very compelling.
This is an album that lends itself to driving alone, late at night, while trying to figure out your own romantic endeavors and why they aren’t quite working out the way you planned. Everything But The Girl knows what it’s like, and this album is a comfort during those late drives. At least, it is for me.