Traveling With Lady Berlin
Clown Milk Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/03/2001
Listening to The Alice Project's sophomore release Traveling With Lady Berlin, I'm struck with a sense of deja vu... though at least it's a pleasant one.
I can't help but sense that I've heard Alice Leon and crew before, though it's been with different bands and different members (none of which included Leon, of course). It's not an unpleasant experience by any means, but it leaves me wondering what this band has that sets them apart from so many other groups with a similar sound. And in the end, I can't find that one thread of difference... and that's the only thing that bothers me.
Oh, it's not that The Alice Project have failed on this nine-song, 33-minute effort. Tracks such as "Lady Berlin," "8-10 Parliament Street" and "Marilyn's Things" all have a Sixpence None The Richer-like vibe when it comes to pop sensibility, and these tracks could easily fit in to any playlist without any listener knowing that The Alice Project wasn't on a major label. The overall sound, songwriting and performances are that solid.
And yet, I'm not fully convinced. Tracks like "Uncle," "I'm Not Afraid To Live" and "How I Wish" often find themselves fading into the background, not getting the full attachment that the band seems to have on other songs. It's not that they don't believe in these numbers as much; it's that they don't have the same emotional power as the solid tracks do. So while they're pleasing enough to the ears, they're also not as memorable... and The Alice Project is the kind of band who should be writing songs that are memorable for the listener.
So what does this mean for the group? Simply this: they have to keep working at their craft. I have no doubt that the band is good, and I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from checking Traveling With Lady Berlin out. But something tells me that while this disc has many great moments, it's still not all that The Alice Project can be. If they push themselves harder when it comes to album number three and write songs that have the same craftiness and emotional power as "Marilyn's Things," this band will be on a collision course for stardom faster than you can say Leigh Nash.
Until then, though, Traveling With Lady Berlin is by no means a bad effort, and is worth checking out.