Album review: india eliot

Cotton candy is an immensely overrated treat. It’s sticky, awful sugar floss. Even letting it melt on your tongue and in your mouth gives it that uncomfortable texture. It’s a good concept, a light sugary snack to carry around the fair, but the execution is completely different.

india eliot’s self-titled sophomore record, for the most part, is overproduced, not in the same way post-grunge and mainstream rock were chemically castrated through compression and dynamic manipulation. But this record is overproduced seemingly by design. eliot tries to shove too many conflicting ideas into her songs together. It’s a brave venture, but it comes off as nauseatingly contrived and ill-fitting.

Take for instance the song Manifestation Manifesto. Instrumentally, it’s an interesting blend of hollow synthesizers and manipulated samples. But eliot’s multi-tracked singing style clashes with the beat in such a way that it makes me wonder why she thought that they would ever work together.

When the mixture works best, it’s still mediocre. Popcorn has a great funky beat flushed with synth jabs and eliot’s dreamy vocal delivery. But it’s not anything amazing. It’s boring. eliot is strongest when she’s bringing forward new ideas, particularly in her instrumentation.

The album is a dichotomy between alternative R&B and experimental electronic music. At times it’s vivid and lush synth layers embraced by eliot’s hushed vocal delivery like on the album opener, All Day. The track is fresh and influenced by high paced electronic dance music, as much as it is woeful R&B.

But on the other side of that coin, it’s vapid experimentation that falls short of anything substantive.

The closing track Tires is almost an insult to the listener. This style is much more aligned with eliot’s first album which was merely a collection of songs. It’s a cacophony of distorted electronic samples that evolves and envelopes new ideas. This is the methodology she really excels at. Sample heavy wonky dance music that finds a way to be engaging through developing instrumentation and original forward-thinking ideas.

eliot is a great producer and a great vocalist. But sadly, the styles she attempts on this new album don’t work together. It’s frustrating to listen to because if the vocals were replaced with vocal chops like on her first album, it would be a fantastic experimental electronic record.

5.9/10 – forgetting to take the wrapper off of a Double Bubble