Curiouser

Kate Miller-Heidke

Sony BMG, 2008

http://www.katemillerheidke.com/

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/02/2008

Kate Miller-Heidke released her debut album Little Eve last year to rave reviews and eventual commercial success in the reinvigorated Aussie music scene.  The classically trained opera singer had turned out a very cute album of quirky pop songs and enjoyed a couple of hit singles including “Words” (whose success was no doubt aided by a fantastic video).

Born and raised in Brisbane, she had fronted local band Elsewhere during their very brief but productive career at the beginning of this decade. After the group’s demise, Miller-Heidke carried on as a solo performer, appearing at festivals and gigging constantly, while her parallel career performing in operatic productions nationally also continued. 

All the while Miller-Heidke was gaining a cult following as well as garnering interest from the industry, and she was eventually rewarded with a deal to record a full-length debut album. Little Eve was the result, and after a hectic but rewarding year, Miller-Heidke flew to Los Angeles to record the swift follow-up to her pleasing debut.

In a departure from her heavily acoustic debut, Miller-Heidke has gone the pop route here and turned out a unique, quirky, and challenging album. Curiouser kicks off with the enchanting “The One Thing Know,” a love song and one of the most straightforward pop songs here. Next up is one the album’s stunning highlights, “God’s Gift To Women,” her ode to the stuck-up posers of the dating scene.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Caught In The Crowd” follows with a tale of teenage love in the schoolyard.  It highlights Miller-Heidke’s sweet tones, which are tailor-made for storytelling. “Can’t Shake It” is the first single released and has been heavily rotated on national radio since its debut last month. It’s a minimalist pop track in the vein of latter day Kylie Minogue and finds Kate lamenting a horrid night on the dance floor: “Someone called the nurse thought I was having a fit / I execute the moonwalk like I stepped in shit.”

“The Last Day On Earth” is a sweet piano ballad, and it is followed by a stab at a gossip queen with the self-explanatory “I Like It Better When You’re Not Around.” The quirk factor is turned way up for “Motorscooter,” which references Quadrophenia and some metrosexual dude who rides a scooter, and Kate drops the last verse in French just for good measure. 

“The End Of School” winds the clock back again to teenage boredom and summer days spent kicking around, making out, and getting bent.  “Politics In Space” is another standout and shows off all of Kate’s unique talents, including her superb vocal range, a tight groovy arrangement, and blasé lyrics.  The catchy “Supergirl” is next and again brings on the nonsense: “Hands in the air for Supergirl / She buys sex toys.”

The album loses a little momentum with the inclusion of “Our Song,” a cliché acoustic love ballad that in spite of its sentimental lyrics just sounds flat.  This is rectified by the complete craziness that is the closer “No Truck.”  I have no idea what’s going on here, but it’s good fun and may or may not be reflecting the demise of a relationship with “His Majesty The Baby.” 

Kate co-wrote all of the songs with her collaborator and bandmate Keir Nuttall. The production is first class and the album’s artwork is brilliant.  It does occasionally sound a little too reminiscent of her debut, but thankfully only in parts.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but who wants to hear the same album repackaged again and again? 

Miller-Heidke will no doubt be a mainstay in the Aussie scene for some time yet.  Her only obstacle in gaining international success will be trying to balance the crazy and quirkiness with great songs and relatable lyrics. Her humor is typical of us Aussies, and it’s great to hear it expressed so devilishly in today’s somber and often boring pop world.  If Miller-Heidke truly challenges herself to go the extra mile next time, she could have a masterpiece on her hands. 

Rating: B+

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