Album Reviews: Night Moves by Lisa PapineauIf you were an aspiring electro-indie chanteuse, it would be hard to steal a better résumé than Lisa Papineau's. Stylish and airily seductive, she's poured her vocals atop a variety of hipster-approved acts -- most notably M83, Air, and Summer at Shatter Creek. Left to her own devices, she struggles to match the heights of her illustrious collaborators, and Night Moves often sounds too eager to simply play the part of wallflower.
Opener "Out to You" sets the tone. As an electronic beat gently skitters across the speakers, summoning the benevolent and commercially appealing spirit of The Postal Service or The Notwist, Papineau puts just enough of a hook into the refrain to make an otherwise pleasant but unassuming song retain some spark. Her vocals are breathy and evocative -- sensual at times -- and this leads to a number of "poor man's Portishead" moments later in the album. To be fair, though, the best track on Night Moves, "Call Me Frenchy," borrows liberally from the Portishead playbook and still manages to strut its stuff -- the sort of song that would be equally comfortable in an uptown martini bar, in the nearest Urban Outfitters, and in the strip club out by the airport.
The middle section of the album is perfectly content to stay in that nebulous range, functioning as urbane background music for all occasions. Night Moves wades into slightly uptempo waters toward its close, first with "Saxophone Calypso," which seems positively rousing when its coed "dada dada dada" chorus kicks in. But those simplistic choruses get old in a hurry; when she busts out the "la la la" and "ooh hey bop" routines in the briskly paced "Power and Glory Part Two," it flatlines with repetition. "Shucking, Jiving" is the one departure, making it sound like Papineau had been listening to the more abrasive corners of PJ Harvey's discography while she was in the studio. Aside from possibly rocking a few Air fans harder than they've ever been rocked, "Shucking, Jiving" doesn't particularly work -- it feels dated and, in the context of the album, almost desperate to raise eyebrows -- but, still, at least it's a shift away from the middle of the road. - Adam McKibbin, The Red Alert
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