Slow Motion Addict
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2007, Volume 14, #6
Written by John Metzger
Thu June 21, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
Welcome to Carina Round, version 2.0. What she offers, however, isnít necessarily a new and improved product. Working on her latest endeavor Slow Motion Addict under the guidance of producer Glen Ballard ó who, not so coincidentally, was instrumental in preparing Alanis Morissetteís Jagged Little Pill for the masses ó Round succumbed to visions of superstardom. Initially, she swaps the raw, arty inclinations that filled her sophomore outing The Disconnection for a radio-friendly blast of post-punk posturing that is leavened with a pop-imbued twist. The altered approach is designed, at least in part, to follow in the footsteps of Yeah Yeah Yeahsí Show Your Bones, and to a certain degree, it succeeds. As spiky guitars stab through her melodies and as Round lets loose a series of shrieks and squeals, itís easy to hear Karen O and her companions squeezing through the cracked polish of songs like How Many Times, Take the Money, and Ready to Confess.
For certain, thereís plenty of promise to be found within Slow Motion Addictís first few tracks. It just isnít fully realized. As opening cut Stolen Car makes clear, Round falters when the disturbing imagery and tortured emotions of her lyrics are undercut by the kinds of big, distracting arrangements in which Ballard tends to traffic. More often than not, the choruses break the spell cast by Roundís verses, and the results frequently sound as if Pat Benatar has been recast as a new wave act. Despite the glitz, Round manages to hold her ground during the first half of Slow Motion Addict, but just when it seems like she might pull through her transformation into a more accessible, moneymaking machine, things go completely awry.
Exploring her softer side, Ballard and Round venture far beyond the notion of simply toning down her quirky, prickly demeanor, and in the process, they lose sight of what made The Disconnection work. The Moby-esque Down Slow and the galloping, arena-ready U2-isms of Come to You provide the most egregious examples of their missteps. However, the overblown string arrangements and the generic, electronic embellishments, both of which define the remainder of the outing, serve as equal accomplices for stifling rather than supporting her efforts. It isnít until The City, which concludes the endeavor, that Round reestablishes her emotional edge. As her voice climbs high above the fray, she breaks free from her restraints to release the pent-up energy of her anguished sorrow in a haunting wail that reveals the full scope of her battered and bruised psyche.
With time, Round may yet find a method of balancing her commercial aspirations with her art, but when looking for inspiration, she would be better suited to reexamining the works of Patti Smith, P. J. Harvey, and the Pretenders than to dabble in the latest pursuits of peers like KT Tunstall, Brandi Carlile, and Regina Spektor. As it stands, Slow Motion Addict finds Round moving from side to side rather than leaping forward. It, therefore, is too early to ascertain whether she is inclined to become an inaccessible artiste, a disposable pop star, or something in between.
Slow Motion Addict is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box