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Lali Puna - Faking the Books

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Artist: Lali Puna

Album: Faking the Books

Label: Morr Music

Review date: May. 26, 2004

A casual listen to Lali Puna's electronically embroidered new album instantly raises questions about the emotional commitment of its creators. While not entirely a cold, distant affair, Faking the Books bears most of the hallmarks of the new digital movement – clinical arrangements, pleasing cooed vocals, and incredibly symmetrical software ornamentation. There is craft here, to be sure; yet, one wonders whether these stately and high-wrought compositions have any more weight than a Victorian doily.

Lali Puna's Markus Acher is from the Notwist, of course. Of late he has become a prime mover on both sides of the Atlantic – partnering with Mush Records anti-hop soundsmith Alias, as well as being a guiding force in the Tied and Tickled Trio, another fave among the quasi-aristocratic listening set. His reputation precedes him, and his skills are indeed formidable. When coupled with the somber chic of requisite female vocalist Valerie Trebeljar, the results are every bit as stylish as one might expect. A perfect accompaniment to a late brunch with refined company.

Acher and Trebeljar deserve praise for coaxing a sonic warmth out of some pretty icy territory; many electronic/organic hybrids fail in this regard. There is a soft tonal continuity to Faking the Books that would certainly appeal to fans of Mum and labelmates Ms. John Soda. But in forgoing the lifeblood of dynamic and passion, the creative minds behind the project fall to maximize its potential, however agreeable their compositions may be.

What of true audio nourishment? As releases bearing similarities to Lali Puna's pop décor pile up around me, I wonder if the pallid swish-and-click of queenly bedroom recordings will ever match the bolder electro/acoustic hybrids Europe produced two decades ago. Is reliance on software to blame? I don't think so. The most apparent reason one might disregard Faking The Books is not the choice of palette and augmentation, but its unrelenting sameness – in respect to the 11 songs here and the album’s place amid its peers. When the grace of delicate pop songcraft is married to the wide open landscapes of electronic production, the results no doubt can be breathtaking. Lali Puna's Faking the Books is just a bit less than.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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