Ramona Lisa: Arcadia (Terrible) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, May 25th, 2020  

Ramona Lisa

Arcadia

Terrible

Apr 11, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Two albums deep with pop outfit Chairlift, Caroline Polachek has become one of pop's go-to girls for upping a song's seductive power. (See her work with Washed Out, Delorean, and Blood Orange.) Polachek's first solo album under the enigmatic name Ramona Lisa isn't a complete reinvention, as we've been led to believe, but rather a subtle recasting of the elements that make her such a powerful musical force. Operating alone, Polachek allows homegrown electronics and haunted whispers to tell more of the story. Her vision is at times rough around the edges, but there's no arguing that this is a singular workeven if the songs themselves veer in several different directions.

A note to audiophiles: Arcadia was recorded on a laptop, with Polachek singing her parts in airport bathrooms and hotel closets. And it often sounds like it. The beats are thin, and the audio levels often come dangerously near peaking. But for every moment that would have benefited from more professional recording techniques (such as the pure pleasure "Backwards and Upwards") there are songs like the pastoral title track, or the meandering, ambient closing song "I Love Our World," that rise above their technical shortcomings. 

Again, the keyword here is variety, with songs united by sonics (described by any of the following: sensual, icy, ambling), rather than structure (which shifts from pop to ambient and back again). "Izzit True What They Tell Me" progresses from a stripped-back opening to a miasmic swirl of layers that feature a ticking clock and vocals running backward. "Wing of the Parapet" dips into some of the extensive opera training we witnessed in a video from Young Turks' New Year's Eve party, Polachek emoting against a digital orchestra. There's no one moment that personifies the album as a whole. (Polachek wrote so much material she actually gave a song to Beyoncéwhich tells you everything you need to know about how wide the net was cast.) But hers is a cinematic swagger we'd be willing to follow just about anywhere. (www.facebook.com/theeramonalisa)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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