album reviews

Sian Alice Group
Troubled, Shaken Etc.
Social Registry (2008)

Kindred spirits: My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized, Sigur Rós

The Sian Alice Group comes from the My Bloody Valentine school of vocals, in which they are woven so intricately into the music that they sound like another instrument. But where MBV forces intensity through decibels, Sian Alice Group is more ethereal: Lead singer Sian Ahern's voice floats over the avant-beats much the same way Beth Gibbons coos in Portishead, only with fewer discernable lyrics.

Ahern's fragility really works for her on the group's second album, "Troubled, Shaken Etc." On the song "Vanishing," she moans over repetitive instrumentation that sounds like a sparse, mellow Blue Man Group outtake, and she sounds ghostly even in her lower register on "Close to the Ground."

The brevity of many of the songs, however, is a disappointment. For a group whose sound is so organic and dreamlike, it's a shame these songs weren't extended into swelling soundscapes, rather than splintered into discrete ideas.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 11 September 2009
.: Troubled, Shaken Etc. on