CD Review: Watch the Fireworks, by Emma Pollock

Fingertips reviews one of the year’s best–and most overlooked–releases:

Watch the Fireworks
Emma Pollock

4AD Records

“If Silence Means That Much to You” is the best song of 2007 that you probably haven’t heard–three minutes and forty-seven seconds of delightfully unfolding interpersonal melodrama, with engaging rhythmic shifts and a memorable chorus featuring a melody that swings effortlessly between the beats. This is the work of an assured songwriter and it is one of many unmitigated pleasures on Watch the Fireworks, an album that you may not heard much of either. The first solo album to emerge from a member of the late, lamented Scottish band, the Delgados, Watch the Fireworks seems to have vanished without much of a trace, as Delgados records tended to do here also.

It’s inexplicable, really. Pollock has an uncanny capacity to keep her songs interesting, infusing them with stimulating melodies, engaging changes, and a sense of honest humanity. Her voice glows with a lucent authority that hits both the louder and the softer notes, the faster and the slower ones, with easy confidence. (Two other highlights are quieter tunes: the former TWF pick “Limbs” and the swaying, commanding “Fortune,” which withholds its most powerful melody until one-third of the way through.) Despite its lack of overt trendiness, the album has by and large received solid critical praise–it’s really just too good for anyone with even half an ear to dismiss. And yet since its September release, Watch the Fireworks has pretty much slipped quietly away.

Or maybe this is not quite so inexplicable, if one asks: would this be happening if Pollock were younger and more of a babe? The artist behind this mighty record is, merely, a serious and seriously talented singer and songwriter. Not good enough for the blogosphere (37 mentions to date on the Hype Machine–two of them here–versus 210 for Lily Allen, for example), or for the adult alternative radio stations that should have been all over this CD this fall but have by and large ignored it. I strongly suggest that you do not make the same mistake.   [buy via Fingertips Record Shop]

(as featured on the Fingertips Album Bin page, posted December 8)

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