styles: electronica, ambient techno, synth pop
Dntel, Cibo Matto

The Heartfelt
March, 2001
rating: 6.0
reviewer: mr p

Power-pop trio Figurine bestow their fruitful synthesizers and tickly sound bytes by the handful on The Heartfelt. David Figurine, James Figurine , and Meredith Figurine (cute, isn't it?) started off as high school buddies. Their music is about as sweet as a jelly donut, and their vocals are more adorable than a tiny mouse with miniature glasses. Unfortunately, this doesn't work particularly in its favor.

The album begins with the incredibly lush and exquisite "International Space Station II". The swelling synths are accentuated by the static-induced percussion, as a baby-ish voice cries in the background. The song continues through equally brilliant sections with trade-off male/female vocals. But this is where the brilliance becomes unrequited.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is mediocre at best. Most of the songs contain the same cute-sy tinkering, causing the tracks to leave no lasting impression. Sure there are some fairly bright and interesting moments, but most of them are repeated later in the album, making the moment less special.

I think the most annoying aspect is that each song sounds so much alike that they had to have been aware of that. Of course it gives the album consistency and continuity, but seriously, it's so damn poppy! There is little room to breathe, as we are continually fed the same staccato synth noises, coated with extra sugar and a side of jellybeans.

The album's stronger moments are usually when the album is, *ahem*, less heartfelt. There is not one song on here that strays from the chords that produce heart-shaped eyes and wagging tongues, but the closest one is the instrumental "PSWD: Natur". But as the short ditty ends, the insipid power-pop Nintendo sounds once again muscle into the mix on "Our Game (Is Over)".

I'm probably being a little hard on the album, I mean, there are some pretty satisfying moments that do not take long to reveal themselves. I already explained the brilliance of the album opener, and let's see... the production is great, and you can't help but appreciate some of the musical aspects that are undoubtedly the stroke of Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel). Really, if you listen to the album sometime, you'll discover it's not as bad as I may make it out to be; it's just that if you have to listen to it over and over and over, you'll find yourself running to your secret stash of satanic cd's, in hopes of growing devil horns and wreaking havoc upon the cold, dark Earth that we call home.

1. International Space Station II
2. Impossible
3. PSWD: Stdum
4. Rewind
5. Way Too Good
6. Stranger
7. Time
8. Instrumental
9. PSWD: Natur
10. Our Game (Is Over)
11. So Futuristic
13. Heartfelt
14. Let's Make Our Love Song