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Surrogate Emotions of the Silverscreen

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Album Review

Isobella turns in another album of ethereal pop music with its third full-length release, Surrogate Emotions of the Silverscreen. Laura Poinsette calls to mind any number of other female singers, most of them European — Björk, Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries, Andrea Corr of the Corrs, Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl, Natalie Merchant — but such comparisons work only by imagining those vocalists in their calmest, most disembodied moods, singing over droning guitar/keyboard music taken at glacial tempos with gradual crescendos and de-crescendos, reminiscent of Brian Eno's ambient records. And that music for the most part overwhelms the vocals in the mix, not quite burying them, but certainly surrounding them and further de-emphasizing the meaning of the lyrics. When examined, necessarily, on the lyric sheet, the words often turn out to be surprisingly emotional, as Poinsette explores romantic elation and disappointment, when she isn't pondering the state of the universe. But they are also quite abstract. The singer employs a vocabulary much larger than what is usually heard in pop music; when was the last time such words as "magniloquent," "immolate," "elucidate," "ethnocentric," or "concrescence" (to cite only a handful) turned up in a song? Indeed, Poinsette doesn't even restrict herself to words found in most dictionaries, including obscure verbs like "aberrate" and "terra-form." Not that this matters much when she's singing lines like "I saliva allocate salinating marmalades," and when you can barely make her out, anyway. Clearly, the words, like the music, are meant to create an overall effect, and they do succeed in making an impression, if a somewhat blurred one.


Formed: March, 1998

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Isobella began life as Akasha in March of 1998, recording and rehearsing in the warehouse district of Tampa, FL. Over the next three months, through friendly conversation and shared musical interest, Brad, Shane, Laura, and Heath pooled their considerable talents and love for the dream pop of bands like the Pale Saints, Slowdive, and the ever-present My Bloody Valentine. By October 1999, they had recorded an album's worth of tracks, and decided to make their first single "Yellow" available via download...
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Surrogate Emotions of the Silverscreen, Isobella
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