I have been inspired to write this review after someone at the university saw me with this cd alongside Napalm Death's classic _Scum_ (definitive grindcore, ya know) and made a snide remark.
For the sheer aural delight of pop songcraft, Sixpence None the Richer is tough to beat. Leigh Nash's innocent, sweet voice and the nonpareil popitude (that's a new word for you) of songsmith Matt Slocum is a deadly combination. With a six-person lineup of vocals, two guitars, piano, bass, and drums (as well as guests on strings), SNtR fills their songs with reams of sparkling texture, but it is never too 'crowded' to detract from its eminently snug, intimate poppy feel, and the tasteful, well-crafted structures keep everything concise and effective. Even the songs that push six minutes are highly compelling. All of these songs are perfect showcases of pure audio sweets. It's so tasty, so deliciously sugary, it makes me think of candy, but the kind of candy that you never get tired of, even as it rots away your teeth and supplicates expensive dental procedures.
Since I have one _minor_ negative point to address, I might as well get it out of the way. There are a few times when the album feels a wee bit overproduced. I suspect a more lo-fi recording might have added some extra charm to it (note that lo-fi does not proscribe glossiness, which is an essential element of SNtR's music -- for an example of a polished lo-fi pop recording, check out the Shins' _Oh, Inverted World_). But trust me, it's a very small point not really worth grumbling about. It takes away nothing from the sheer pleasure of this delightful cd (I just think a shift in gear for production would improve the music -- as is, the sound is not a detriment, per se).
But who cares about my frivolous objections...this album is a jewel of tremendous worth. Songs like "Breathe Your Name", "Tonight", and "Waiting on the Sun" are supremely listenable, ravishing pop gems. Nash's voice is so perfect for Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" you'll think it was meant for her all along. Gorgeous, heart-melting ballads like "Still Burning", "Melodies of You", and the stunning "A Million Parachutes" provide foil and balance and a nice flow for the album. The lavish string arrangements on "Dizzy" are perhaps melodramatic and cheesy IN THEORY, but they cannot work but impeccably with this band's dreamy, sumptuous sound. It just works so well.
I love this CD. I want to get some more Sixpence None the Richer albums.