After seven years as a key member of Belle and Sebastian, Isobel Campbell continues to strike out on her own (but this time uses her own name—she previously released two albums under the moniker The Gentle Waves). The album, Amorino, matches the singer’s delicate, paper-thin voice effortlessly with a myriad of styles (jazz, soft bossa, electronic pop), instruments (French horns, glockenspiel, vibraphone) and “found sounds” (bicycle bells, pots and pans). The ragtime tune “The Cat’s Pyjamas,” featuring the Uptown Shufflers, fits here like “It’s Oh So Quiet” does on Björk’s Post: it shouldn’t make sense, but it does. With its bells, trumpet solo and full orchestra, the soaring climax of “Monologue for an Old True Love” inches skyward like a wind-swept feather. Though it draws on musical influences as far back as the early 20th century, Amorino is an undeniably modern release: “Think of all the chances we miss/See the people walking by/With their mobiles and computer eyes” Campbell sings on the lovelorn “There Is No Greater Gold.” But the airiness of tracks like “The Breeze Whispered Your Name” and “Johnny Come Home” is deceptive, what with Campbell’s optimism often entwined with a chilling darkness: “To taste the honey we must first taste the blood/A poisoned nectar.” The feat here is that she manages to avoid sounding melodramatic. Unfortunately, that same demure tone makes the second half of Amorino drift off into sleepy monotony.
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