Divine Discontent

Sixpence None The Richer

Reprise, 2002


REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret


After 1997’s worldwide breakout hit “Kiss Me,” a heavenly slice of irresistible pop that was heard everywhere, Sixpence None the Richer was poised to make the most of their success with their next release. But label issues delayed Divine Discontent until 2002, and despite an intervening single, “There She Goes” which was added to subsequent pressings of Sixpence None The Richer, the group’s new audience had moved on and the band subsequently hung it up.

However, Divine Discontent is the natural and worthy successor to Sixpence…, and ethereal vocalist Leigh Nash would go on to solo success (Blue On Blue) and to inspired partnerships with Delerium (trippy dance hits “Innocente” and “Orbit of Me”), Los Straitjackets (a cover of “The End of the World”), and a trio of songs with Japanese girl pop group Rin on their disc, Inland Sea. A recent joint venture with Nash and the members of Delerium produced Fauxliage, the group and the album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But what about Divine Discontent? With this disc, Sixpence not only built on their trademark pop sound, but also added some appealing rough edges, most notably distorted, jangly guitars. Yet the strongest material on the disc is still the band’s lighter, radio-friendly tunes, including a cover of Crowded House’s classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over” that almost steals the song from Neil Finn and landed at number nine in the Adult Top 40.

In the disc’s leadoff song, “Breathe Your Name,” written by guitarist Matt Slocum, the band starts off with a very “Kiss Me” feel, from the strumming guitars to Nash’s pixie-esque vocals. But the lyrics address the serious issue of how to remain constant in the Christian life: “So many days within this race / I need the truth / I need some grace / I need the plot / to find my place / I need some truth / I need some grace / the part of you / that’s part of me / will never die / will never leave.”

The answer to the how? “I can only breathe your name.”

Nash may be the personality of the group, but Slocum is the main creative force. He writes the majority of the words and music, occasionally sharing credit with Nash or fellow guitarist, Sean Kelly, and also served as a producer.

As a swan song*, Divine Discontent leaves me, a longtime Sixpence fan, wanting. For every transcendent moment (“Breathe Your Name,” “Waiting On The Sun,” “Melody Of You”) there is a cringe-inducing counterpart, mostly in the closing “arty” triumvirate of “Dizzy” (ponderous and overlong), “Tension Is A Passing Note” (high school lyrics), and “A Million Parachutes” (banal musically and lyrically).

This may be attributed to the long time between the recording of the project and its release, because, according to fans, an earlier pre-release of Divine Discontent included a vastly different set list. Or it simply may indicate the band tired of dancing the record label jig.

[*The latest news from the Sixpence MySpace page is that the group is back together again and recording a Christmas album to release in October. Plus, they are hitting the summer festival circuit and allegedly cutting tracks for an EP to release sometime this fall. A new breath of life?]

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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