wears the trousers magazine

inara george: accidental experimental (2009)
October 28, 2009, 3:22 pm
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , ,


Inara George
Accidental Experimental ••••

Though she is perhaps best known as the Bird to songwriter/producer Greg Kurstin’s Bee, Inara George is a cottage industry unto herself. Having graduated from early outfits Lode and Merrick to go it alone, the Californian singer has chalked up an impressive catalogue in the four short years since her solo album All Rise, produced by ‘Donnie Darko’ soundtrack composer Mike Andrews. As well as The Bird & The Bee’s two albums and three EPs, she’s recorded an elegant second album with Van Dyke Parks (2008’s An Invitation, complete with 24-piece orchestra), toured with Eleni Mandell and Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark as The Living Sisters, and made a (currently shelved) album with Idlewild’s Rod Jones. In some respects, her new release Accidental Experimental comes full circle as George realigns with Mike Andrews for a rummage through some of her forgotten songs, including four reworked numbers from An Invitation and others she regards as source material for that album’s luxurious symphonies.

Keen to emphasise this difference in her creative process, George has described making Accidental Experimental as like “digging into the back of the closet and bringing out your winter clothes”, a suitably seasonal allegory for the album’s chilly October release. However these dreamy, winter-breath lullabies sounded in their initial incarnations, they’ve flowered into something hypnotising here, filtered through the cinematic vision of her collaborator. Deft production and imaginative arrangements work hand in hand to create a compelling soundtrack that swirls between light and dark with a magical delicacy. George’s silky vocals are deceptively soothing against the twinkling backdrop of acoustic folk and crackling electro because, lyrically, she dallies between starry dreams and darker waters. Whether it’s burning in hell and sinning with indifference in opener ‘Surprise’, or calling with anxious cries for knives and fire in ‘Accidental’, her lulling tones reveal a quilt of invitingly romantic neurosis for those with an ear for it.

The combination of slow, downtempo synth-pop and acoustic meditations work in tandem for the most part, but unravel with a delightful self-awareness in others. The dark, shuddering modulations that steer in towards the end of ‘Bottlecaps’ soft, bittersweet folk are weaved in with a ghostly stealth, while the mood-driven ‘Bomb’ marries the lucid sounds of tight, muted guitar picking and glowering electro basslines seamlessly. The breathtaking ‘Right As Wrong’ (originally from An Invitation) stands out, not just for its heart-aching prettiness but for the passionately fluctuating, confessional tangents it casts — almost accusatorily — into the ether. “Am I insane? / am I a liar?” she cries on ‘Accidental’, a questioning narrative that repeats its dizzying, wavering grasp of self and surroundings throughout the album.

There is a distinct sense of the indefinite made romantic on this album, as if George has been walking a line that blurs between softly enveloping, daydream realities and the creeping darkness of something more nightmarish. End song ‘Greedy’ captures this hauntingly ambivalent quality best, with its quietly striking piano notes and almost overwhelming choral vocal notes that pipe up like discordant, clamouring voices. If you can imagine all the half-words, part-images and disappearing thoughts that flash behind your eyes in the moments before sleep poured out skilfully into song, it would sound a lot like Accidental Experimental.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 19/10/09; www.myspace.com/inarageorge


5 Comments so far
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Aw this is such a nice review. I’ve kept tabs on Inara’s work since meeting her back in 2005 but somehow lost out on hearing of this one’s release. I look forward to picking this one up for certain.

Comment by loria

Yes, do! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Comment by Charlotte

Wish this as out as more than a download.

Comment by Evan

[…] 55 Kate Walsh – Light & Dark [3.5/5; interview] 54 Inara George – Accidental Experimental [4/5] 53 Dragonette – Fixin’ To Thrill [4.5/5] 52 Spinnerette – Spinnerette [4/5] 51 Slow Club […]

Pingback by best of 2009: readers poll results 99–51 « wears the trousers magazine

i finally just listened to this new album this week and it was amazing!

Comment by wonderpiece

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