Everything But the Remixes 

click to enlarge 160_tracy.jpg

Tracey Thorn
Love and Its Opposite

(Merge Records)

As their 1992 acoustic album made abundantly clear, the heart of Everything But The Girl was that of a folk band, but amplified. That wasn't always obvious, though; throughout the '90s they were filed under some inappropriate amalgam of electronic pop and trip hop, and even "Missing," their career-making calling card international hit, is best known not with its original acoustic guitars, but via producer Todd Terry's booty-bass club remix (and then by proxy through Chris Kattan's lascivious gyrations as Mango on Saturday Night Live, but that's another matter entirely).

So a singer-songwriter album from leading lady Tracey Thorn is an intriguing prospect, especially in the wake of her stellar 2007 solo rebirth, Out Of The Woods, a seductive Supermarket Sweep binge of vocal layers and keyboard lines in the Imogen Heap template. Love And Its Opposite is much sparser; not folk per se, just closer to it than fans of either her last band or her last album could have expected.

But it's been decades since Everything But The Girl decided to start trading in songs for beats, so rather than talking here about how Thorn is now "wearing a different hat," I'd like to propose a sister metaphor which instead substitutes pants, the reason being that if you hang up your pants for twenty years, you may find when you finally pull them back down that they no longer fit properly. This is the situation in which Thorn finds herself now.

In other words, even if they're not bad songs, this barebones thing is really just a needless waste of everybody's time considering that she could instead be doing the sculpting she already excels with. But then there's "Kentish Town," a haunting Gothic guided tour through somebody else's memory lane filled with fog and regrets, breathtaking and bone-chilling and yet perhaps the skimpiest of the bunch, enough to make me defer final appraisals until we've seen the next round. In the meantime, somebody please remix these.

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