Class Actress

Rapprocher

Carpark

Oct 21, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


What exactly is Elizabeth Harper playing at? Well that is, other than becoming another entry in the "pretty women who can hold a reasonable tune" file. Her new album under the Class Actress moniker is painfully dull and ridiculously over-wrought (admittedly a clever trick), a facsimile of 1980s style-with none of the conviction.

Seemingly a mere pawn in the hands of producer Mark Richardson and multi-instrumentalist Scott Rosenthal, Harper's playful, Sarah Cracknell-esque (Saint Etienne) vocals-arguably the best part of the project-are all but swaddled into obscurity. Opener "Love Me Like You Used To" sets the blueprint for the rest of the album-a series of anonymous riffs that fade into the background like the world's most disco elevator music-when they're not busy creating a notable dissidence between voice and instrumentation (see: "Limousine").

When the lyrics manage to rise above the level of the musical narrative, their subject matter is downright unintelligible, doing Harper no favors. "There's so many lines I thought you whispered last night," she mutters on "Need to Know." Uh, like... what? Even an inclusion of the classic pickup line "What's your sign" would have offered more specificity.

"You made me late for work/you made me late for church," Harper sings on "Weekend." We can deduce she was probably waylaid by more than a game of chess-but could there be a less sexy way to reference an early morning tryst?

Perhaps then-given the album's wild shortcomings-its title Rapprocher (French for "to come close to") is more than appropriate. Harper and her cohorts have certainly created a close approximation to the heyday of Depeche Mode and Human League-but ultimately their dated sound doesn't even come close. (www.classactress.com)

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