Natalie Imbruglia
Left of the Middle


3.0
good

Review

by MS2k USER (17 Reviews)
April 2nd, 2015 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You say "don't be blue", is that the best you can do?

It's understandable that a pop gem like Natalie Imbruglia's Left of the Middle should be relegated to the footnotes of pop history. Found in bargain bins across the country (I got mine for an unbelievable 50¢), never talked about in public, and widely ignored by virtually every audiophile in the world today, this album actually has some decent music on it. Nobody remembers that it reached the Top 10 in both the US and UK (#1 in Imbruglia's native Australia), garnered three Grammy nominations, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US.

On the other hand, everybody remembers "Torn", her '97/98 cover of an obscure alt rock band's single that achieved worldwide critical and commercial success and secured her status as a one-hit wonder, arguably. Improving on the original, Imbruglia employs very clean, soft acoustic guitars, a gentle dancey beat played out on a drum machine, vintage 90s selfsung "oooh"s and "aaah"s as backing vocals, and sleek production that enhances the package. It's the perfect pop song, and one of the most iconic songs of the decade.

The rest of the album is just as slick, incorporating wild flanging guitars tamed into submission, funky basslines that fit the dress code, and a good many rock and jazz(!) instruments brilliantly thrown into the mix. You get a feeling that the session musicians were jamming just prior to playing on this album, as their contributions sound enthusiastic and enjoyable. Most of the songs grasp at their respective influences so desperately that, had the producers let them, they could have been the alt rock or trip-hop(!) anthems that they approximate. "One More Addiction", for example, if left to its own devices could have been a raging warm sunny-day type of song akin to those of Oasis. "Leave Me Alone", with waves of saxophones lending emotional support to a deep bass, smooth beat, and divine vocals with little flourishes of vibraphone, makes for one rhythmic chillout track that could easily have fit on Sneaker Pimps' Becoming X released one year previously, or even (in a previous life) in the middle of a Duke Ellington suite. "Impressed" has the grooviness and guitar noise and special effects of an upbeat polished Garbage dance-rocker. And the title track, a slow ballad with twangy acoustic guitar and very soft synth pads, could have made its home on a country-pop album by Sheryl Crow or, a decade later but more apropos, Taylor Swift.

In fact, if you dig the classic 90s period sound, the only real weakness on this album is Natalie herself. For while the songs are well-crafted and catchy and the lyrics not bad, her vocals aren't always up to snuff. Her timbre on certain songs ("One More Addiction", "Big Mistake", "Wishing I Was There", "Don't You Think"", "Intuition", and "City") is reminiscent of Alanis Morissette without the bite, and in all the comparisons made above she seems to fall flat. Rather than carrying the tune, the tune carries her, and with an album striving so hard to rock, poor Natalie's voice just lacks the power to project with any degree of intensity.

This album is pretty good. Sonically, lyrically, and emotively, it's as solid an album as you'd expect given the knowledge that it sold over seven million copies worldwide and won so many accolades in its day. And if you're looking for good bang for your buck, these days it's a steal. But in spite of its easy listen-ability (again, see highlights "Torn" and "Leave Me Alone"), it neither inspires nor riles you up. It's good sustenance with great presentation, but it lacks the seasoning to entice beyond its face value.



Recent reviews by this author
New Politics A Bad Girl in HarlemNew Order (the best of) New Order
The Rifles Great EscapeShiina Ringo Muzai Moratorium
The Servant With the InvisibleThe Servant Mathematics
user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.4
great
related reviews

Come to Life

Comments:Add a Comment 
undertakerpt
April 2nd 2015


1568 Comments


Good review

Sheet, I never noticed the Alanis comparison until you mentioned, but yeah songs like "big mistake" def have it

ChoccyPhilly
April 2nd 2015


11761 Comments


Right in the nostalgia. Fantastic review mate. Have a pos

Digging: Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

ChoccyPhilly
April 2nd 2015


11761 Comments


Dude, torn isn't that bad. There were worse one hit wonders at the time

guitarded_chuck
April 2nd 2015


14963 Comments


torn is a fantastic 90s female pop song

p4p
May 24th 2015


1959 Comments


^ agreed one of the best songs of the 90s

bloc
December 13th 2017


50053 Comments


Torn still fuckin rules

Digging: Aepoch - Awakening Inception

DinosaurJones
December 13th 2017


9500 Comments


NOTHING'S RIGHT, I'M TORN

bloc
December 13th 2017


50053 Comments


My eyes used to get really wide when she started singing about being naked on the floor

DinosaurJones
December 13th 2017


9500 Comments


I was too innocent a young lad to think about it very in-depth.

bloc
December 13th 2017


50053 Comments


But damn this woman was attractive for real

DinosaurJones
December 13th 2017


9500 Comments


She has beautiful eyes

Aiwaz
December 18th 2017


8870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There's just so many things, that I can't touch I'm torn

Digging: Tool - 10,000 Days

Aiwaz
December 18th 2017


8870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bloc ily man. Was just thinking the same thing a few weeks ago about Torn

neekafat
December 18th 2017


9908 Comments


Torn is a classic yeah

bloc
December 19th 2017


50053 Comments


Hell yeah bros

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
December 19th 2017


5222 Comments


I feel like I lived under a rock for this, but I never heard Torn until just this year

DinosaurJones
December 19th 2017


9500 Comments


It blew my goddamn mind when I found out that Torn is a cover

neekafat
December 19th 2017


9908 Comments


I had no idea until I read this thread lol

bloc
December 19th 2017


50053 Comments


Wait what

DinosaurJones
December 19th 2017


9500 Comments


bloc, I'm sorry to shatter your world, bb



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy