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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lauren Elle: I Prefer The Element Of Surprise (2008)

Hailing from Grand Rapids Michigan, Lauren Elle’s debut album on ACOSM Records, I Prefer The Element Of Surprise reminds me of the wonderful simplicity of music that so often gets lost today. Most of Lauren’s album is comprised of her trusty acoustic guitar and her voice. Now I am a sucker for female singing voices and although Lauren’s voice isn’t terribly unique she sounds like she has a wonderful handle on it and uses it to every possible advantage.

Take for example the first song, “I Wish My Heart Was A Stone,” it is probably the catchiest and sweetest songs I’ve heard in a long time. Pulling out as much humble sweetness in her voice she sings, “I/ Wish my heart was a stone/I/Hate making decisions/I/Am better off alone/Cuz I/Don’t trust myself.” No Lauren! Don’t wish these things because you sound too lovely to be so lonely. The stretch of the “I” is wrenching and beautiful.

Elsewhere on I Prefer The Element Of Surprise Lauren utters familiar hooks, but sings with such emotion and honesty, she really does make them all her own. On “H.O.M.E.S.” perhaps her most lyrically dense, she still manages to make lines like, “Smile like the sun does/Or my poor little heart might break/Or be sad and cry yourself a set of/Your very own great lakes,” into a chorus that is strangely catchy, but very moving. This song also contains one of my favorite lines on the album: “Sometimes I am criticized when my head is in the clouds/But to be honest I’m not partial to the solid ground.” That’s something I could definitely be criticized for as well.

Now I don’t know why “Bike Tickets” is listed as a bonus track on this album, but it is perhaps my favorite song here. Featuring a Lo-Fi sounding keyboard and drum track instead of her usual acoustic guitar, this angelic dirge is extremely haunting and beautiful. Her voice takes on an almost operatic manner, as she sings, “Won’t you be my sunflower,” over and over as if it was a mantra.

My only complaint about Lauren is that she sings The Moldy Peaches song, “Anyone Else But You,” alone. I don’t know if it was to transform it into a sad exercise on loneliness, but it unnerves me just a bit.

With that said, the rest of I Prefer The Element Of Surprise is utterly infectious for its strict simplicity and low-key manner with which it presents itself. Don’t let that fool you, Lauren Elle is making songs that are not to be missed. You may not know it, but the tugging in your heart is the lack of these songs going into your ears.

Lauren Elle-"I Wish My Heart Was A Stone"

Lauren Elle on Myspace!
Get I Prefer The Element Of Surprise on ACOSM Records!


Anonymous said...

Haha, well, she recorded it by herself before she knew I could sing. I'm her best friend, and I play shows with her. We've realized that boy/girl harmony sounds a lot better than anything else, and it really works out!

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