Review Summary: And now for something completely different...
Adding herself to the current insurgence of nu-wave, Gabriella Cilmi
appends more wheels of confusion to those still attempting to figure her out. Acoustic warmth is casually forgotten throughout Ten
, a new 2010
(duh) rehash of her vocal style, only presented in the 1980s electronic realm. Of course, the progression from paced numbers on her debut like “Sweet About Me”
, to buzzing white noise snare hits and borderline Kate Bush
flair currently, may appear like a potential funhouse for Cilmi to paint in; evidently she’s having the fun, but the results are partial. “On a Mission”
may be the concurrent hit for parts of Australia and the UK, but there’s not enough to be offered afterwards from the remaining 44 minutes.
Still attempting to pin the tail on the donkey? Be shocked to find that Lessons to Be Learned
is nowhere to be found, sorry but you may have to begin all over again. Owe the myriad of electro flavours here to the variance of Dallas Austin, Xenomania, The Invisible Men, and Greg Kurstin; Ten flows between smooth electro-ballads and pulsating dance tracks because of these subtle production differences, while at the same time mingling with new musicians on the block at each turning point. Little surprise that Xenomania’s familiarity with the vocalist produces the next obvious hit, “Heart’s Don’t Lie”
, which with a Bee Gees
chorus and punchy verse structure out-performs its predecessor. Remaining standouts like the funky “What If You Knew”
, square-wave computerised “Robots”
and ambient love-struck “Defender”
set the bar high early -- where Kurstin for example produces the fairly tiresome and dirty sounding “Superman”
at number 12, Austin goes on earlier to provide both the ring modulated yodel chorus in “Boys”
and sticky sorrow in “Glue”
-- each comparatively tantalising but still fragmentary pieces.
But regardless its shortfalls, Ten is probably a direction where Cilmi needs to go, even if that means trialling instrumentation not complementary to her vocal abilities. Phasers, reverb, noise, flange, drum loops, manic modulation, it’s all here -- it’s just a shame it doesn’t blend all that well together. A little experimentation with vintage Roland Jupiter-8s and ProTools inserts wont blight the bandwagon of this new founded electronica in music, and more importantly Cilmi’s mounting portfolio, but at the same time they don’t necessarily make for an attainable collection of songs in this instance, sorry Gabs.