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Pick Up

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Album Review

On her second Solex album, Pick Up, Elisabeth Esselink continues to recycle bad music into good, sampling the kitschiest, cheesiest records in her shop and shaping them into her distinctive musical vision. A richer, more complex effort than her debut, Solex Vs. the Hitmeister, Pick Up is also more bewildering on the first few listens. Esselink's hyperactive creativity results in an initially confusing collage of seemingly unrelated musical elements and ideas — "Pick Up" alone features a mournful trumpet, bluesy guitar licks, a string section, and shifting, syncopated rhythms. Very often, Pick Up sounds like Esselink singing whatever comes into her head, backed by four different records playing at once. That's a compliment, however. Esselink's loose, whimsical approach creates fragile musical hybrids like "Randy Costanza"'s klezmer-calypso, and the swing-trip-hop of "The Burglars Are Coming!" Yet Pick Up is far from an exercise in creating hyphenated genres; "That's What You Get With People Like That on Cruises Like These," "Snappy & Cocky," and "Oh Blimey!" are impressionistic, obscure, poppy — almost unclassifiable, other than as Solex songs. As with Hitmeister, Esselink's pretty, slightly distracted vocals link each of the album's vignettes together and add to the songs' spontaneous feel, particularly on "Superfluity" and "Five Star Shamberg," where her stream-of-consciousness singing adds to the dreamlike vibe. Most impressively, Esselink's enthusiasm for music — playing it as well as listening to it — shines through on each of Pick Up's 14 tracks, especially the slinky "Escargot," and "Another Tune Like 'Not Fade Away.'" By melding techno's penchant for sampling and indie rock's D.I.Y. aesthetic, with Pick Up she creates pure, paradoxical music where anything is possible.


Born: 14 August 1965 in Delft, The Netherlands

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Named after a small, Hungarian-made motor scooter, Solex is the project of Amsterdam-based record-shop owner and songwriter Elisabeth Esselink. Formerly a member of Dutch indie pop group Sonetic Vet, Esselink wanted to express her musical ideas more completely; after purchasing an 8-track recorder and a vintage sampler, Esselink began recording songs on her own. Combing the racks of her own store for kitschy records, Esselink took snippets of old records to make new ones, creating her own style of...
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