Sunday, August 26, 2012

Charming, melodious pop

album profile

Their twinkling single 'Kiss Me' brought them mainstream recognition in the late '90s. Now Sixpence None The Richer have returned with a cohesive record that treats simplicity as an asset

Artist: Sixpence None the Richer
Album: Lost in Transition

Their twinkling single 'Kiss Me' brought them mainstream recognition in the late '90s, when the Nashville-based group had a massive hit with this gorgeous song that originally appeared on their 1997 self-titled album. But, marred by record label woes, it took Sixpence None the Richer nearly five years to release their next album, Divine Discontent (2002). Led by singer Leigh Nash and guitarist Matt Slocum, the group saw some of their other singles - like 'Breathe Your Name' and the covers of The La's 'There She Goes' and Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' - achieve some success, but their musical union did not last; not long after the release of Discontent, the band decided to part ways. Attempts at solo careers and new projects inevitably followed. Then in 2007, the group decided to reunite. A Christmas album surfaced a few months later, and the promise of a new studio record featuring original material excited their eager fans. Thus began the wait for their comeback album, but delays, once again, got in the way.

Now, after years of holdups and, yes, even more label issues, the aptly titled Lost in Transition (it was originally set to be called Strange Conversation) has finally been released. Made up of 12 songs, some of which will already be familiar to those who have been following the band since their reunion, Sixpence None the Richer's first full-length album of new material in almost a decade picks up where its predecessor left off. There is some musical growth, but there isn't a drastic change in direction, nor is there any attempt to create something that is overly concerned with mainstream and commercial trends.

Lost in Transition is an offering of mostly mid-tempo, melodious pop with occasional tinges of country and folk. Sixpence have created a cohesive record that treats its simplicity as an asset, merging Leigh Nash's ethereal voice with sweet melodies. The horns-laden 'My Dear Machine' gives a confident start to the record; their Christian rock roots show in tracks like 'Give It Back'; and songs like the breezy 'Radio' and 'Should Not Be This Hard', which stands out with its perky vibe that masks the heartbreak buried in the lyrics, are a testimony to the group's talent.

Some of the tracks convey the struggles the band endured as it was held back by circumstances. Yet, despite its underlying bittersweet sentiments, there is a sense of understated confidence on Lost in Transition that shows the group is making the kind of music that they really want. The set manages to evoke '90s nostalgia with its familiar sound, but it does not dare to venture into any new territory or try anything different or particularly interesting and exciting. It isn't an album that screams for immediate attention; it may be easy to like, but there's nothing exceedingly remarkable about it. The album does display some good (albeit uneven) songwriting, and while you won't find another 'Kiss Me' on it, Lost in Transition is still a charming and heartfelt record that Sixpence None the Richer fans are likely to embrace.

- By Sameen Amer

 Instep, The News on Sunday - 26th August, 2012

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