Jennifer O’Connor – Surface Noise (2016)
FLAC (tracks+.cue) | Tracks: 12 | Playtime: 00:37:45 | Size: 232.4 MB
Genre: Indie Rock | Label: Kiam Records
There’s a quote attributed to BBC DJ John Peel wherein Peel defends vinyl’s imperfections against the flawless sound of CDs, telling an acquaintance, “Listen mate, life has surface noise.” Surface noise, on vinyl or in real life, is the gnarly stuff that grounds each of us in reality and gives us a shared point of human commiseration. Jennifer O’Connor’s Surface Noise, then, seems to be an effort reconciling the places in life that are rough around the edges. However, in her songs about handling love and fear on her sixth LP, O’Connor scrubs all the grit out of her own music, delivering a flat, fine record that never really gets out of its own way.
O’Connor’s voice is pleasant and gentle, floating in a low-to-middle range and surrounded by warm instrumentation. The album as a whole feels tidy and timeless. The flip side of that coin, though, is that you feel like you’ve heard Surface Noise before even upon first listen. Stacked against other indie-inclined singer-songwriters of recent years, it would be tough to pick Surface Noise out of a lineup. The songs bleed into each other so seamlessly that it’s easy to listen to half of the record without realizing you’ve done so.
The album moves at a painstakingly moderate pace. “It’s a Lie” sounds as though it might hold something interesting as it kicks off with slightly scorched guitar riffs, but they’re swiftly relegated to the background. Plenty of albums simmer gently with an even temper, but there’s usually an undercurrent of intrigue: tension, anxiety, sadness, anticipation. Somehow, none of that makes its way into Surface Noise.
02. Start Right Here
03. Falling Feeling
04. It’s A Lie
05. The Road
06. Standing For Nobody
07. Tell Me What You Need
08. Down To The Wire
09. It’s Gonna Get Worse
10. You’re Not There
11. Don’t Talk To Me
12. Black Sky Blanket
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