Imogen Heap ELLIPSE

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'Ellipse' Podcast

Hayley Hosman takes a closer look at Imogen Heap's 'Ellipse.'





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On first listen, Imogen Heap's album Ellipse seems formulaic and lacking in some X factor. Instead of another album bursting with upbeat gems, the 13 new tracks-including the single "First Train Home"-appear to be running low on the boundless energy of her past albums.

Upon second and third listen, however, the album's well-crafted and thoughtful production becomes more apparent. Heap falls back on her DIY electro-pop calling cards yet also breathes into them a quieter, cinematic intensity. The sonic landscapes of Ellipse are its strongest feature, while Heap's lyrics often stretch farther than they can comfortably reach.

But where words fail her, Heap's musicality keeps her afloat. Even a track as lyrically uncomfortable as "Bad Body Double" is ridiculously catchy, despite being about body image and "dimply thighs," with Heap ruminating, "I hear that stuff's a bitch to get rid of."

In the vein of "Hide and Seek," the stark and beautiful single from 2005's Speak For Yourself, tracks "Little Bird" and "Half Life" are poignant standouts, with synths reminiscent of Swedish group the Knife. Heap also shows her playful side with tracks like "Earth" and the short, peerless "Aha!", which comes off like a manic shot of energy in the midst of more staid fare.

Despite its ability to grow upon repeated listens, what is most confusing about Ellipse is that Heap seems to have lost her pop nerve. Most of the songs never really use Heap's walls of synths and vocals to their full dynamic potential, but the control that she exhibits is an interesting sea change. She seems to be playing the role of film composer more than electro-pop princess. It suits her, but hopefully she hasn't given up on pop bombast completely.






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