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The Disconnection

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Album Review

Interscope's U.S. version of The Disconnection finds Carina Round staring out at us from the cover, a plain-faced beauty with a gentle gleam in her eye. It's not cheesecake by any means, but it certainly means to catch the shallow eye. But hey, what's that on the back cover? It's Carina tortured and smeared, a Videodrome diva with black holes for features. She still stares at us, but it's with a detached dullness. "I did this to me," it says. "If you want me, you get both sides." Most places in the world get the back cover as their front, but the duality of the domestic helps illustrate similar qualities in Round's music. There's beauty here, but it's qualified by gloom and suggestions of fetish. Equipped with pipes that wind from the sultriest depths to keening, aching highs, Round's vocals are a come-on and a put-down, a cry for help that chokes into anger or cynicism. She's indebted to PJ Harvey (Dry, especially) in the way her willowy words orient the raw, wailing guitar and primitive percussion of "Shoot" and "Into My Blood." However, it's the enticing darkness of the cabaret, not wiry punk or the blues, that seems to be The Disconnection's real muse. Bursts of horns join the catty flirt of "Lacuna"'s chorus, before its verses break into plunks of off-kilter piano behind Round's captivating intonation. "You're just looking for an excuse/To call yourself a f*ck up," she dismisses, and the song ends with an intake of breath, as if she has a few more things to say about your no-account ass. "Paris" and "Monument" link New York and The City of Light in the shadows, incorporating swishes of rangy acoustic guitar, subtle jazz rhythms, and overtures that devastate like that back-cover photo. While electronic programming and samples of Carina herself do tick around in The Disconnection's backgrounds, the album keeps its 21st century cabaret vibe alive by supporting Round's vocals with organics — rich bass, spare percussion, aforementioned snatches of acoustic, the occasional horn part, and washes of Rhodes and harmonium. At the same time, it's easy to imagine The Disconnection as trip-hop, if it had been issued in the processed mid-'90s haze of Portishead and Morcheeba's Big Calm. It revels in the laconic dourness that made those albums great; it can be pretty and lazy. But when Round starts singing about black wings spreading overhead, or when the late-album standout "Sit Tight" starts drifting between dusky, throaty R&B and a groove more irresistibly lurid, you begin to wonder whether you'll need more quarters to keep this peep show going.

Customer Reviews

the ultimate seduction

I generally find that when I like an album, I like it in one of two ways. The first will be that I drop it in and it catches me almost immediately. The second is when I listen once and fail to be grabbed, but find it good enough to be worth another listen a few days later, and a few days after that -- the grower albums that take at least a half a dozen listens before their brilliance imprints itself on my mind. That second type of album is almost inevitably the most rewarding, to me; two years after that first listen, the growers will still be on regular rotation while those immediate successes are gathering dust. Carina Round's albums ("The Disconnection," and even more "The First Blood Mystery") are the perfect example of perfect grower albums. A first listen can rarely do them justice -- they're too personal, too raw, too irregular with their highs and lows, ups and downs, minor keys. But keep playing, and slowly her voice -- rich, bluesy -- will weave itself into the back of your mind, slink sensually up your spine in a way that gives you shivers that are both frightening and absolutely seductive. She's not the kind of songwriter to sound like she's been reading your diary -- instead, she reads you her own, fiercely, unapologetically, growling it out like a challenge rather than whispering it like a secret. Don't be fooled by all the lazy PJ Harvey comparisons. While one can easily recognize that they've been influenced by some of the same sources, they don't sound alike in any really significant way, with Carina's sound being more jazz-inflected and, to be honest, less radio-friendly. Standout tracks on "The Disconnection" are Lacuna, Monument, and Sit Tight.

moody

Totally agree w/the grower comment. Her vocal gymnastics don't quite hit you 'til the second listen. This album is so subtly commanding. I'm sure there's a category for her, but this is unlike any other rock album I've heard from a solo singer in a long time.

Ribbons

I love Carina, I think she has a beautiful voice and style of her own. I was sad that Itunes doesn't have Ribbons though, from her The First Blood Mystery EP, it's wonderful and worth a listen if anyone can find it. I was hoping to find it on Itunes, but no luck!
But her albums are definately worth buying, they really help me jump start on writing.

Biography

Born: 1979 in England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Before gathering similarities to the likes of PJ Harvey, British singer/songwriter Carina Round got her start with a short stint at Birmingham's famed Ronnie Scott's club in 1996. Within several years, she had gained attention through support billings for Mark Eitzel, David Gray, the Wonder Stuff's Miles Hunt, and most notably Ryan Adams, who later asked her to perform at several of his London shows. Round soon expanded her sound with the additions of drummer Marcus Galley and double bassist Simon...
Full Bio
The Disconnection, Carina Round
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