Smile...It Confuses People
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2007, Volume 14, #1
Written by John Metzger
Thanks to a cleverly orchestrated, low-budget marketing campaign, Sandi Thom was propelled out of her obscure existence. Subsequently, she found herself in the enviable position of watching her generational anthem I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair) bump Gnarls Barkleyís Crazy from the top of the U.K. charts. Her full-length debut Smile...It Confuses People was issued almost immediately thereafter, and it, too, met a similar fate of instantaneous success. For all intents and purposes, the album is cut from the same cloth that spawned fellow Scottish folk-rocker KT Tunstallís Eye to the Telescope, and opening cut When Horsepower Meant What It Said virtually sounds like a sequel to Tunstallís Black Horse & the Cherry Tree. Elsewhere, Thomís approach is a tad more varied, and where Tunstall dabbled in Radiohead-esque textures, Thom draws from the Jackson 5 (Little Remedy) and Joni Mitchell (Time).
Nevertheless, both Smile...It Confuses People and Eye to the Telescope suffer from a similar weakness in that both Tunstall and Thom make a few too many concessions to the mainstream. Thomís Lonely Girl and Castles, for example, are utterly generic folk-pop tunes that fail to leave any semblance of a lasting impression, while What If Iím Right is aimed directly at Michelle Branchís audience. In truth, outside the nostalgic When Horsepower Meant What It Said and I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair), thereís nothing on Smile...It Confuses People that fully works. For all of her whining about the lack of a vibrant youth culture to which her music can provide the soundtrack, Thom does little to cultivate one. Instead, she opts for the same crass commercialism as everyone else. Ĺ
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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