Morella's Forest
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When you see this album in the stores, don't dismiss it as Cheese Whiz just because of song titles like, "Lime Velvet Love Seat," "Silver Syrup," and "Candy Necklace of Love." There is plenty of substance below the surface. Like many touring, working bands, MF has matured and changed, all for the better. If you didn't like the way the guitars on their debut made your ears bleed, then you'll probably like this project a lot better. That whole fizzy-amp-static-buzz thing evidently shorted out their amps, so they've gone for a much more conventional, straightforward approach to modern rock.

The opener, "Big Orange Bubble," seems to fit in a bit with the stuff off of "Super Deluxe," but then the listener hears a guitar solo -- a good guitar solo. At the same time, Sydney's voice isn't so caked with reverb, and her vocals are quite a bit more precise than they were before. Many a listener will ask, "Did I hear a string section on the last two songs?" Yes, you did. It isn't exactly an orchestra, but it's there. For further peculiarities, check out "Hula Hoop." If you didn't think it was possible to mix Devo with Veruca Salt, you were wrong. In some off-kilter way, the '80s and '90s are musically compatible. This band has stretched itself. One minute, they're Sixpence None the Richer ("Pastel Straws"), the next they're throwing out guitar melody lines a la The Edge on U2's more recent stuff ("Butterscotch Boy"). Add it up: The Flaming Lips producer was the head of production this time. He did a very good job. There's not a bad song on here. Every one of them is tasty and catchy. Sydney has hair now. This is the upside of the album. The downside is that this puppy is just plain short... Since it's so darned short, it's easy to burn out. It's just too easy to listen to it over and over. You could literally listen to it fifty times a day, if you had nothing better to do. This is the downside.

Upsides and downsides aside, this is a very likable project. If you thought these guys were too weird before, check them out again. It's very likely that you'll be impressed with the improvements that have been made. If nothing else, you can use the song titles for show and tell sometime.

- Chad Johnston


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