Thursday, February 10th, 2011
Review of Nicole Atkins’ Mondo Amore
nicoletakins.comThat Nicole Atkins’ 2007 debut album Neptune City was a favourite in these parts is a matter of public record, but does that mean it was a perfect record? No, not at all. As a vocalist and songwriter, Atkins has never tried to hide her New Jersey roots or the classic rock, blues and country traditions that informed her formative years so drenching her first record in big, romantic orchestral arrangements was a gutsy case of trying something completely unexpected from the get-go. And by and large, it succeeded though it was more because of Atkins herself and sometimes despite the production choices.
So opting to strip things down for her second effort, the just-released Mondo Amore, might seem a little less creatively adventurous but hearing Atkins operating completely within her comfort zone and playing to her strengths more than validates the decision. The front half of Amore showcases the rock instincts that were sublimated on Neptune City, from the sinister and slinky leadoff “Vultures” through the countrified “Cry Cry Cry” and barrelling “You Come To Me” – some of the genre nods can be a little on the nose, but their energy more than makes up for it.
As invigorating as side one of Mondo Amore is, it’s the smouldering side two that really seals the deal, dimming the lights, raising the reverb and spotlighting Atkins at her wounded, torchy best. The compositions themselves wouldn’t have been out of place on Neptune City, but whereas a track like “Heavy Boots” might have reached its crescendo accompanied by legions of strings, Amore drives the emotional quotient home with cavernous piano and understatedly snarling electric guitar. There’s still plenty of drama on tap, but it’s delivered more naturally and thus more effectively – Amore is less theatre, more boozecan, and all the better for it.
The New York Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Palo Alto Daily News, Largehearted Boy, Spinner, NorthJersey.com, Blurt, Interview and BlogCritics all have features on Nicole Atkins. Her North American tour is underway and will make its way to The Horseshoe in Toronto on February 26. The whole of Mondo Amore is currently available to stream at Spinner.
Pitchfork is streaming Okkervil River’s new non-album single “Mermaid” while talking to Will Sheff about their new record I Am Very Far, due out May 10. Sheff also takes Spin through the new album track by track.
Oh hey it’s a new Kills video. Blood Pressures is out April 4 and they play The Sound Academy on May 1.
Video: The Kills – “Satellite”
The final deluxe-ass Pavement reissue – that for Terror Twilight – will see the light of day sometime in November.
And because for a short time yesterday people trying to get the new Strokes MP3 basically broke the internet, here it is. It sounds like The Strokes. Angles is out March 22.