Listen Up: Wednesday, August 13, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Eden Automatic

Not Your Familiar (Self-released)

By Brian Abrams

Eden Automatic frontwoman Annette Conlon, in true über-babe fashion, once sang a Marvin Hamlisch tune on c.d., and on her band’s last album, Glimmer (2000), she covered Cyndi Lauper, for crying out loud. But those tunes are exactly the Jiffy-Pop roots that she and EA seem to be trying to break away from on EA’s third album, Not Your Familiar. The Dallas natives’ newfound brazen attitude, however, just isn’t tough enough to overcome their good nature. The saccharine is merely hidden behind a handful of half-developed tracks, not done away with completely. The result leaves you with mixed sensations and nothing really to grab hold of.

EA’s first shot at a more solemn batch of songs (e.g., drowsy tempos, Conlon’s weighty drones, a cover of The Doors’ “Waiting for the Sun”) isn’t a total loss. The band’s tenacity seeps through the tracks, and it’s obvious that the gang has some talent. But not knowing whose path to follow — the glammy Pretenders’ or thrashy Concrete Blonde’s — traps the band in limbo.

Not Your Familiar doesn’t really harness the glum, either. In “Pretty Boys in Pleather,” Conlon’s madam vampire vocals ring all too sweet and lofty over the heavy backdrop behind her. The tracks’ mix fails to fuse, too, swaying from club sweetness to lounge depression. But think of the future. EA’s experimentation allows the band to put on a new face and shows their willingness to diversify. Whether or not Eden Automatic sticks with Not Your Familiar’s contradictory vibe or retreats to the less-threatening pop of Glimmer, good faith shouldn’t altogether abandon a group that has not etched its sound in stone and is still trying to find itself.


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