Album ReviewMagician's Private Library★★½
Holly Miranda of The Jealous Girlfriends realeased her debut solo album, The Magician's Private Library, under the guidance of producer Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio fame on Feb. 22.
The album, released on indie label XL Recordings, could have been the product of Miranda's diverse cover-work (which Pitchfork.com compares to Jeff Buckley or Cat Power) while touring for The Jealous Girlfriends. It may also have been the product of the hype and influence from artists such as The Antlers, Kanye West, Friendly Fires and, of course, TV on the Radio.
Because of this influence, the album often sounds more like a collaboration between Miranda and these artists, rather than a solo effort, an unfortunate fact considering Miranda's unique voice and talent as a lyricist.
Many of the songs have a similar structure with Miranda's voice as a base, under several layers of sound. This may be an acceptable style for TV on the Radio because lead singer Tunde Adebimpe can power through the layers of sound when necessary, but Miranda unfortunately cannot. Her voice is often lost, and is covered up in brass or effects making it harder for the listener to have an appreciation of an album that, before Sitek's input, could have been a forerunning album in the singer/songwriter category of 2010.
The song in which Miranda shines the brightest is "Canvas," likely due to the fact that her lyrics are most noticeable. With a thoughtful chorus and lyrics like, "Curl yourself around the frame / Our canvas is still one that's blank," she is able to retain a mood of thoughtful consciousness.
Miranda varies from topics of affection to that of a more serious love in "Slow Burn Treason," featuring Kyp Malone, also of TV on the Radio. This song has a more complete sound with strings and percussion rather than the overwhelming and persistent keyboard and bass of others on the album. Unfortunately, it's a harder listen because of Malone's and Miranda's two uncommon voices. The anomaly in this song is unfortunate since the album's relaxing capabilities seems to be one of its few positive aspects.
The Magician's Private Library is an entirely accessible album, but it isn't awe-inspiring. The album has a great deal of promise with more of a stripped-down focus on Miranda's voice, which will hopefully happen in their upcoming tour with Vampire Weekend and Tegan and Sara.
The Writer RecommendsHave One on Me (2010) - Joanna Newsom