Everything but the girl

After the success of their club hit "Missing," Everything But The Girl abandoned the folk-rock formula that they had followed on their first seven studio albums and ventured into the realm of dance music. Their eighth album, Walking Wounded, was both a critical and commercial success, and the duo established themselves as an important contributor to the emerging electronic music scene.

The singles on Temperamental, the follow-up to Walking Wounded, should strengthen Everything But The Girl's status as a groundbreaking act. By experimenting with new sounds familiar to the underground club scene but sticking with their trademark subdued melodies, the band creates a sound and style that is unmatched in today's music scene. By spending the past few years DJing at various clubs around the world, band member Ben Watt developed a taste for house, drum-n-bass and hip-hop music. These genres are well-represented on Temperamental and work well with singer Tracey Thorn's vocals. The composition of dance rhythms, breakbeats, electronic sound effects and mournful vocals produces an interesting, if somewhat disjointed, sound.

The bad thing is that the band spreads itself out too thin on Temperamental, only touching upon several musical styles. Although most of the songs are individually laudable, they don't fit together on the album, and the band fails to make a strong overall impression with this record.

The band shows talent on a number of tracks, and we can only hope that they recognize their strong points and work with them in the future. For example, "Five Fathoms" is a successful experiment in house music, with calm vocals soothing a heavy beat. "Blame" combines a furious drum-n-bass formula with airy vocals, and the result works. The title track would simply be a good pop song with heavy beats and electronic sound effects, but Tracey Thorn's powerful singing lifts it to even higher levels.

Although they have a firm grasp on drum-n-bass and house music, Everything But The Girl fail to conquer the world of hip-hop. Songs like "Low Tide of the Night" and "Downhill Racer" fall short of impressing listeners because they are simply boring. Clunkers like these just lower the overall quality of the album. Most listeners will find themselves skipping certain tracks to get to the good stuff.

Temperamental is just another stepping stone in the long career of Everything But The Girl. They experiment with various sounds, winning with some genres and losing with others. This album should be a good learning experience for the duo. If they can recognize that their strong points lie within pop, house, and drum-n-bass songs, their next album will surely be phenomenal.


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