wears the trousers magazine


theoretical girl: divided (2009)
August 6, 2009, 10:52 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , ,

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Theoretical Girl
Divided ••••
Memphis Industries

Originally from Southend-on-Sea, Theoretical Girl – aka Amy Eleanor Turnnidge – now resides in North London, and if you think you heard her latest single some time back, you probably did. First released back in 2006, ‘Red Mist’ stirred up interest from various quarters but not quite enough to push her vintage-attired, guitar-strumming self into the spotlight. With impressive determination, Turnnidge dusted off her travelling shoes, packed her trusty eight-track recorder and embarked on a 2-year journey of international gigging, originally accompanied by backing tracks alone but eventually forming a touring band in The Equations.

The hard work paid off, and dues finally arrived in the form of sold-out headline tours in Germany and Italy, not to mention support slots for top-notch acts including Metric, Good Shoes and Calvin Harris. Now armed with a grant from the PRS Foundation, an independent UK-based funding organisation that sponsors artists from all genres, and a recently inked contract with Memphis Industries, Theoretical Girl and her debut album are good to go.

Divided is a fantastic debut that’s misleading in a multitude of delightful ways. Self-professed inspirations may come from “’60s girl groups, New York’s ESG, and the classic twee pop of Sarah Records,” but Turnnidge succeeds in matching these retro sounds with contemporary ones, rather like colours and patterns intentionally clashed to a pleasing effect. Violins and piano glide alongside acoustic and electric guitars, and dainty, almost classical-sounding pop meets with electro and indie disco in a whirlwind of elegant arrangements and dizzying fun.

The pitch-perfectness of Turnnidge’s crisp, well-spoken vocals are deceptive, veering away from the prim, Mary Poppins cheerfulness easy to associate with such a tone. Instead, Turnnidge covers matters of the heart with an eloquent candour, and Divided is certainly a telling title. From low self-esteem on ‘Never Good Enough’ and rallying hope on ‘A Future Apart’ to jealousy on ‘Red Mist’ and suspicion in ‘Dancehall Deceit’, ambivalence plays a large part in the album’s narrative. The artwork – a carousel deer dissected clean in half – is the perfect visual indication of this paradoxically charming angst.

Divided leaves no room for doubt that Turnnidge is a gifted songwriter with an ear for traditional, high-art pop that she tweaks and customises into something delectably her own. From the symphonic melancholy of ‘Good Timing’ to the catchy, upbeat pop of the title track, Turnnidge should be winning hearts all round. A perfect balance of sunshine sounds and somewhat bitter lyrics keep her vacillating numbers from growing too quaint, adding a shock of realism to a very sweet-sounding album. A strong debut from a determined, versatile young songstress, Divided has all the hallmarks of a hit record.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 17/08/09; www.myspace.com/iamtheoreticalgirl

‘The Hypocrite’

‘Divided’ [live]


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[…] Theoretical Girl – Divided [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 6/8] 22 Smoke Fairies – Frozen Heart EP [Richard Steele 13/7] 23 […]

Pingback by Q3: 50 most read reviews « wears the trousers magazine

[…] What we said then: “Divided leaves no room for doubt that [Amy] Turnnidge is a gifted songwriter with an ear for traditional, high-art pop that she tweaks and customises into something delectably her own. From the symphonic melancholy of ‘Good Timing’ to the catchy, upbeat pop of the title track, Turnnidge should be winning hearts all round. A perfect balance of sunshine sounds and somewhat bitter lyrics keep her vacillating numbers from growing too quaint, adding a shock of realism to a very sweet-sounding album. A strong debut from a determined, versatile young songstress, Divided has all the hallmarks of a hit record.” •••• Charlotte Richardson Andrews […]

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