Release Date: Feb 17, 2009
Record label: Zedtone
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Mandell under the radar no moreLos Angeles hipster and Tom Waits acolyte Eleni Mandell has been writing and singing sultry pop-noir songs for almost a decade now, but it wasn't until 2007's stark, brooding Miracle of Fivethat she started to receive the acclaim she deserves. That album ended up on several year-end Best Of lists, including Paste's. Her follow-up, Artificial Fire, should ensure that the radar is firmly fixed on her music for a long time to come—this big, bright blip on the screen is the best pop album I've heard in months.
One word that is seldom, if ever, used in connection with Eleni Mandell is "belter." The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has generally favored a subtle, understated, hushed vocal style; Mandell's vocals are a whisper, not a shout or a scream. But Mandell's subtlety doesn't mean that her performances and songs are lightweight or lack substance; emotionally, Artificial Fire has a lot going on. This 2009 release is a fine addition to her catalog, although it isn't an album that goes for immediacy.
Eleni Mandell is the quiet girl in the back of the classroom who somehow always says something brilliant when she speaks. Despite putting out a reliably solid body of work, touring often, having excellent side projects, and palling around with the likes of Tom Waits, she has somehow always stayed just below the radar of big musical fame. Perhaps it’s her incredibly polite, soft-spoken demeanor in interviews and concert chatter.
Los Angeles singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell has made creating hushed, Tom Waitsish sounds her mission, but on her seventh album she unleashes some serious rock 'n' roll. Little Foot is an infectious 80s-style pop number, while the title track features one of the catchiest distorted riffs of the year. [rssbreak] There's a bevy of mellow songs, too, including delicate acoustic track Personal and the jazzy Tiny Waist.
Eleni Mandell is smiling on her seventh album, Artificial Fire. She’s toned down the boho Tom Waits shtick and PJ Harvey poutiness of yore, traded them in for girl-group cooing, major-key pop/rock ditties and lazy love songs that waft on the breeze like blown kisses. Mandell’s alto voice, one of the sexiest in Los Angeles, is languorous as ever, and she’s still got the same finely etched descriptions that would have you re-experience fleeting moments that you never experienced in the first place.