Listening Booth: Olivia Broadfield, “Eyes Wide Open”

Written by Listening Booth, Music

Olivia Broadfield, Eyes Wide Open (2007, Pig Factory)
purchase this album (Amazon)

Just when I think I’ve heard enough wispy female bedroom pop, along comes another cute-as-a-button waif with an adorable British accent and a fondness of drum machines to draw me back in. Which is funny, because I don’t ordinarily care about British accents, and I don’t like drum machines at all. I mean, I enjoy a good Imogen Heap record as much as the next person, but come on, right? How much more of this stuff do we need?

At least one more album’s worth, apparently, or so my ears are telling me as I glide my way through my latest listen to Olivia Broadfield’s Eyes Wide Open. It’s got all the usual trappings of the genre — programmed beats, vintage-sounding keyboards, and lyrics like “Don’t fight this fire/Come stay the night with me/Silence never sounded so good,” all frosted with a tasty layer of Broadfield’s breathy vocals — but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for with pure craft.

Broadfield (who wrote all the songs, played a variety of instruments, and co-produced) has a gift for spinning delicately infectious melodies out of all the lyrical themes you expect (love, longing, heartbreak), and she keeps the arrangements smartly sparse without sacrificing the occasional burst of ear candy. Like a really well-made sports movie, it’s thoroughly predictable, but in all the right ways. Much as I never tire of watching the Italian Stallion whup Ivan Drago’s ass in the final act of Rocky IV, I’ve been spinning this album for a week, and I’m not tired of it yet.

Eyes Wide Open came out overseas last year, but Broadfield’s American reps are still (or starting to? I don’t know) pushing it here, and you can get the whole kit & caboodle for less than $9 at Amazon’s MP3 store via the above link. Try out “Fool Today” (download) and see what you think.