Talk about starting with a bang. Adaline achieves near Judy Garland levels of melodrama
on “That’s What You Do Best”, the stately electro-torch song that opens her new album,
Modern Romantics. But she doesn’t get there without boxing your ears with wiggy sax
(from Shuffle Demon Richard Underhill) and unhinged guitar solos (by Hawksley
Workman) on the way, the latter sounding like it was recorded in a reinforced missile silo.
There’s a lot of tastefully rendered sonic action on the way to that quivering, love-burnt
It’s what Adaline does best; elegant structures that happen to be wildly hooky. “It’s a
pop record,” she says of her sophomore effort, “but certainly not straight down the
middle. I have pop sensibilities, but I hope I come across as a little deeper than a pop
tart.” Deeper by orders of magnitude, based on the sheer stylistic scope of Modern Romantics,
and the quixotic path it takes through sexy, minatory trip hop (“Keep Me High”), smartly
built robo-pop (“The Noise”, “Sparks”, “Stereo”), and even the sad-erotic cabaret
of “Cost Is Too High (Not To Love)”. That last number is what you might have gotten if David Lynch and Julee Cruise had composed a song for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.
Adaline and her collaborators Hawksley Workman, Marten Tromm, and Tino Zolfo have made that kind of record. Modern Romantics is invested with the depth and imagination you only ever get from
high-end, ultra-talented music nerds, whether it’s in the meticulously layered percussion
and noise – timpani included - of the Metric-gone-industrial “Wasted Time”, or the tonal
shifts that bring such deliberate force to Adaline’s cathedral-sized ballad, “Say Goodbye
(I Won’t Even)”.
“I wanted to take a very European approach to the record,” she says, adding that she and
her busiest partner, Hawksley Workman – who played on and produced nine of its 12
tracks – were throwing names like Portishead, Bat for Lashes, La Roux, Beck, and
Goldfrapp around when they entered Toronto’s Canterbury Studio for four
weeks. “Groove artists,” she calls them.
Workman teased out Adaline’s “cheeky” side for the woe-is-me-I’m-successful jiggle pop
of “Stereo”, while a lot of the vocals on Modern Romantics are first takes. In the case
of “Silent Player”, Adaline’s scratch vocal is what you hear, as the song was written and
recorded in Tino Zolfo’s Granville strip hotel room with “everyone drunk and puking
everywhere” on the street below.
Somewhere in the midst of all this push and pull, Adaline managed to bash together a
toweringly impressive record, not to mention a neatly symmetrical one. Final
track “Heartache” bookends “That’s What You Do Best” with a real curtain-closer; a
concert hall goodbye that’s lush, romantic, heartsick, and grand. It’s Adaline’s
melancholy side writ large – “I’m a former pastor’s child, I have a lot of drama in my
life,” she shrugs – and it’s the final touch on a record that’s as deep, as it is wide, as it is
Comments by Adaline
Hey, thanks a lot!