Friday, June 30, 2006

Music: Finally Woken • Jem

Genre: Electronic pop
Released: March 2004
Verdict: &&&1/2

Here's another from the criminally ignored pop albums file, this time from another Euro-diva in waiting, Jem. The opening one-two punch of "They," which weaves children's voices into a hypnotic mix, and "Come on Closer," are about as smart and addictive as pop music can get these days. I'd wager that either track, given some exposure, would have vaulted into the top 40, if not top 10. A casual listener to one of these tunes might guess the singer to be Dido, but the bottom-heavy beats juxtaposed with occasional electric guitar ("Come on Closer," "24") yield a slightly grittier sound than Dido's. "Wish I" offers a different mood, sounding like breezy beach music, but not unappealing. The real treat of the album is "They," with its unshakable melody and addictive lyrics about shunning mindless conformity, or some such. It also sounds somewhat mysterious and intriguing, as a great pop song will, and it's one of my favorites of the 2000s. Finally Woken arguably goes a bit uneven in the closing stretch, but it sure beats listening to American Karaoke's Taylor Hicks or Katherine McPhee.

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