wears the trousers magazine

bertie blackman: secrets & lies (2009)
July 21, 2009, 10:18 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , , ,

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Bertie Blackman
Secrets & Lies •••
Forum 5

Much has been made of Bertie Blackman’s transition from alternative rock starlet to electronic goddess, but the transition is not that surprising given Blackman’s track record. Her evolution from demure folk-rock indie sweetheart on first album Headway to grungy rock chick on the follow up Black was just as compelling – if not as radical. On her latest effort Secrets & Lies, Blackman has reimagined her sound completely, and while it doesn’t always make an entirely convincing listen, it is certainly an intriguing one which needs a few listens to soak in.

Opening proceedings with the orchestral ‘Sky Is Falling’ is a brave choice, but it’s a fitting introduction to what is, by Blackman’s standards, an experimental record. The pulsating ‘Thump’ is a no-holds-barred rocker that is given a certain edge by its electronic flourishes, while ‘Black Cats’, the first track to fully embrace electro, is a curiously endearing song that could have been plucked from The Presets’ Apocalypso. Lead single ‘Heart’ is a busily infectious affair, complete with tempo changes, ’80s-style synths and even doo-wop backing vocals. The album’s highlight, however, is the sprawling ‘Byrds Of Prey’, an instantly gripping club track that is calling out for a set of throbbing remixes, but even in its original form would win over the hardest of clubbers.

It’s unfortunate that Blackman doesn’t reach this frenetic pace again, but she keeps things moving at a reasonable tempo with the seductive ‘Come To Bed’ and the stirring, sparsely arranged ‘Shout Out’, which has more in common with her previous work than anything else on offer here. ‘White Owl’ and ‘Clocks’, while sonically pretty, have moments that verge close to becoming tedious and dull, but in most cases Blackman’s understated vocal performances are engaging enough to maintain interest. Lyrically, too, Blackman keeps things intriguing, particularly on the aptly titled ‘Lust & Found’ on which she spurts out lines like “And what would our parents say / as this generations bleeds / they’d say I know what you love is / but it’s lost in a red, red sea” with a quiet vigour that is uniquely hers.

Blackman has made a brave record with Secrets & Lies, not by completely shedding her alt-rock persona but by adding another dimension to her sound. Her experimentation is not always successful, and the album does seem to lag in the second half, but she should be given credit for taking a risk with her sound, something which many more accomplished acts are reluctant (or too uninspired) to do. Nonetheless, Blackman seems more at home when rocking out than when she’s hiding behind a wall of electronica.

Dane Hodges
Available on import only; www.myspace.com/bertieblackman




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[…] bertie blackman: secrets & lies (2009) […]

Pingback by australia week « wears the trousers magazine

[…] New Zealand pop act Ladyhawke beat down any controversy over her five nominations at last night’s Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards with two wins, taking home both the best single (‘My Delirium’) and album (Ladyhawke) prizes for a breakthrough artist. Commenting on the dispute surrounding her participation, she told MTV Australia: ”It’s a shame that there was a bit of dark shadow cast on it. I didn’t want to offend anyone… I just write exactly the type of music I want to listen to myself.” Previous ARIA award winner Sarah Blasko, who has established herself as one of Australia’s most loved and continually evolving artists, took home the award for best female artist following the success of her third album As Day Follows Night [review / interview]. Other winners included Sia for the lovely TV Is My Parent DVD and independent artist Bertie Blackman for her third album Secrets & Lies [review]. […]

Pingback by ladyhawke, sia and sarah blasko win at 2009 ARIA awards « wears the trousers magazine

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