Wednesday, October 06, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘Catching a Tiger,’ Lissie (2010)

Now, this girl can sing. Too bad she hides that fact a little too much on her first full-length album.

Lissie’s (a.k.a. Elisabeth Maurus) debut, the five-song “Where You Runnin’” EP from last year, is a stark, captivating masterpiece. Three of those minimalist tracks are included here, but they actually sound out of place on an album whose remaining tracks are altogether ordinary, sugary, generic pop ditties in the vein of Lily Allen, Katy Perry, et. al.

It’s not that they’re bad, necessarily, I just found myself asking … why? Why would she screw up something as great as the gripping, cavernous power-folk of her EP to delve into over-produced genre stuff like everyone else? Lissie's voice still shines, but she doesn’t make these tracks her own in the way, say, Florence Welch did last year on her spectacular debut. Whereas Welch soars above these conventions and makes them her own, Lissie seems happily awash in made-for-radio track like “When I’m Alone” or “Cuckoo”; it’s nice enough while you’re listening to it, with those by-the-book background vocals and whatever, but easily forgotten. Every new song on “Tiger” left me thinking, “Where have I heard this before?” Her debut work on “Runnin’,” on the other hand, left an indelible impression.

The three EP tracks—“Little Lovin’,” “Everywhere I Go,” and “Oh Mississippi”—provide a tantalizing glimpse of what Lissie is capable of. When she hits those high notes in “Everywhere” … incredible. The album as a whole is anything but. “Catching a Tiger” is a nice, safe, enjoyable pop record … but, sadly, nothing more. And, thus, a rather large disappointment.

Grade: C+

Favorite Track: “Everywhere I Go”

Least Favorite Track: “In Sleep” (for the by-the-book guitar solo outro, if nothing else)

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