Repeat after me, “seven songs, do not an album make”. OK, so there may the occasional exception whereby some pseudo prog experimentalists create a thirty minute sonic adaptation of Coriolanus but by and large seven tracks does not constitute a fully formed release, well not in my book anyway. Annie Hart, however, disagrees. As a Brooklyn-based musician and 33 1/3% of Au Revoir Simone let’s not forget, Hart has a lot to live up to; there is fierce competition over there to be Queen of Cool and no little peer pressure from her bandmates. Which begs the question as to why Impossible Accomplice has ever seen the light of day.
Au Revoir Simone, whilst not exactly prolofic in their output, were generally regarded as a force for good in the world. Whilst hardly ground-breaking they did offer up some sophisticated and thoughtful synth-pop which attempted to chisel away at the darker side of life. You always got the feeling the girls were a keynote away from really opening up and revealing themselves as serial killers or worse, tax collectors. With this in mind, I was hoping, no praying, this was the direction Annie Hart was heading; would this be a full-throttle nosedive into the depths of Hades culminating in her laying bare the impediments of working in an all-female trio?
It’s not that there isn’t a degree of gratification to be had from Impossible Accomplice, it’s merely that I fail to understand the point. It’s as plain and twee as a gingham dress, with my apologies to all gingham dress wearers. There is no golden rule which insists that all synth pop should be complex and meaningful, far from it, but it does need to strike a chord somewhere in my solar plexus. There has to be a resonance or else you’re just left with a hollow shell of a record which drifts by before you have opportunity to check the album sleeve. Put it this way, I listened to Impossible Accomplice several times and the only occasion it made sense was when I was watering my hanging baskets.
The first two numbers ‘I Don’t Want Your Love’ and ‘Hard To Be Still’ are pure sub-par Goldfrapp, well Goldfrapp back when young Alison was able to pen a good electro number circa Supernature and before she went off at a tangent with the fairies. ‘Run To You’ is not a cover of the Bryan Adams classic but that might have been more palatable than the saccharine nursery rhyme on offer.
The album is redeemed somewhat by the excellent ‘On The Way Down’ which starts off as Close Encounters homage before Hart takes inspiration from another female contemporary, this time EMA and the results are staggeringly different. The slow, breathy vocals are a sombre but welcome contrast to the fare on offer elsewhere. More of this please. The end, or track seven if you prefer, is ‘Softly’ and resembles Kate Nash and if you think I’m having a sly dig then have a listen yourself.
I’m confident Impossible Accomplice will find an audience, it’s hardly terrible, but it lacks the ability to charm my pants off and conversely, it ends up outstaying its, albeit brief, welcome. My hanging baskets have never looked better though.
Impossible Accomplice is released on 28th July on Cryptic Whispers