Whatever They Say I'm a Princess
/eglantine; 2004/

more info:

Pollyanna is a French band led by songwriter Isabelle Casier. My first reaction was "woah, Julie Doiron." It does sound like Julie Doiron but a bit less intimate, a bit less low-key, and midway through "Matador", the first song, I changed my mind and decided it sounded more like Nina Nastasia, with haunting cellos, dramatic choruses and careful instrumentation. "You Hold the World in Your Hand" sounds really dark while "Frankenstein" leans more towards Doiron's casual weariness with lyrics like "It's hard to please with a screw stuck in your forehead." I don't really like the sound of her acoustic guitar though. "Iron Man" reminds me of Ivy, a bit less exciting and a bit less poppy but she has a great voice and a cute shade of an accent. I decide to shortlist it for the rainy hit of the Summer award. I like her voice but just like every girl-singer (a singeress?) I don't like when she sings too well. I like it when the voice cracks and when you can hear the sighs. "In My Pocket" sounds a bit too mannered, it starts like a Decemberists songs –"my father died in the war sixty years ago"- and ends like a dark dark Cat Power song –"my whole life's been like a theft." There's a guy singing along with a low low voice on "The Narrow Door" which sounds a lot like Julie Doiron. That's not a bad thing, it's just not very original.

I have to tell you something though. You can only go too far. Halfway through the album, while I'm listening to "Untitled" in which Casier sings "I like it, to be naked and weak" the "come on girl, get a hold of yourself" neon sign in my head sparkles vigorously.

"Song for a Room," "Romeos" and "Across the River" aren't as good as the previous songs, and the self-depreciating lyrics get a bit tiring. The album's final song is titled "Goodbye" and I don't mind. It's a nice closer, a bit of a tearjerker but the cello makes it great.

This is a nice album, but to me it looks like Isabelle Casier is stuck too deep (or not deep enough?) in her misery to turn her insides into black jewels that shine. Wake up, wake up.

-Barbara H

/sept 1st 2004/