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4.0 out of 5 stars Rare gems, May 16 2010
This review is from: Rarities (Audio CD)
A lot of people have heard Emiliana Torrini's work, even if they didn't immediately identify her on albums by Gus Gus, Thievery Corporation, and Kylie Minogue. Her quirky, pretty style is on display in "Rarities." It's exactly what it sounds like -- odds and ends, remixes and B-sides. And despite a few odd choices, it's a rousing success.

It opens with four B-sides, odds and ends that weren't on any of her previous albums. "Weird Friendless Kid" is a gentle ode to the people of this world who don't fit in, while "If You Go Away" is a poignant, crystalline love song. "Flirt" is Torrini at her most offbeat ("Banging my drums with your bones as you scream and shout!"), and "7-Up Days" is a shivery, catchy little tune.

The remixes start off strong with an acoustic version of "Tuna Fish," which loses none of its eerie charm when played on stripped-down guitar and drums. "Baby Blue (Rae & Christian Remix)" is even better than the original, using a vaguely funereal tone that gives the strange song added solemnity. The ones that follow aren't as good -- they tend to be a bit too dense and dancey, especially the "Unemployed in Summertime" remix.

Those who enjoyed the fascinatingly offbeat style of "Love in the Time of Science" will probably enjoy "Rarities." It's a bit less acoustic in the B-sides, and almost dizzyingly electronic in the dancey remixes. But Torrini's offbeat lyrics and quirky charm are present everywhere.

The songwriting is strong as ever, ranging from simple and sweetly memorable ("If you go away/On this summer day/Then you might as well/Take the sun away") to gloriously weird ("Before I touch you I would like to think/Of black hair and butterfly milk/Ingredients of your gift"). Most pop singers couldn't really pull off a song that talks about drumming with bones without sounding poseurish, but Torrini does it.

And Torrini proves again that she doesn't need electronica to sound eerie -- muted drums and an acoustic guitar can be just as good as the textured soundscape of the "Baby Blue" remix. Her pretty, soft, vaguely voice can sound playful or poignant, and her Icelandic accent gives the vocals a slightly exotic edge.

Emiliana Torrini's "Rarities" is a solid collection of remixes and B-sides, ranging from acoustic ballads to trip-hop tapesties. Definitely something worth checking out.
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EA Solinas

Location: MD USA

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