on 17 September 2008
This review is biased - I'm already a fan. However, nothing, even my predisposition to enjoy anything new from Emiliana Torrini, could have prepared me for this astonishing album. 'Love In the Time of Science' was a great album, with Roland Orzabal's distinctive touch very evident without distracting from the songs or from Emiliana's vocals. 'Fisherman's Woman' was a bold departure from the multi-layered production of the previous album and felt much more 'personal', simple and with some beautiful songs and vocals, along with equally beautiful instrumentation courtesy of Dan Carey. 'Me & Armini' is yet another departure, and takes Emiliana into another league entirely. As a musician myself, I'm always on the lookout for songs and artists that surprise me. This album is packed full of moments of inspired performance, creativity and 'surprises' whilst still feeling very much an Emiliana Torrini album. No two tracks are the same, but Emiliana's vocals and lyrics run through it like a thread, stitching it all together. It is tempting to over-use words such as 'stunning' 'extraordinary' 'breathtaking to try and describe this album. Instead, just take my advice: if you really love music, buy this album - you won't be disappointed.
Emiliana Torrini's last album was all wistful folk. Before that, it was all equally wistful electronic pop and the creepily pretty closing song to "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
But before all that, she dabbled happily in everything from jazz to J-pop, raw-throated indie-rock to the blues -- and she did a pretty good job at all of them. And while her fifth album "Me and Armini" doesn't quite explore EVERYTHING she's done before, Torrini slips back comfortably into some of the musical niches she has already carved. Her delicate pop is flavoured by tinges of other styles and genres, and sometimes those other sounds (as in "Gun") overwhelm it completely.
"Somebody's got a long way to go/You're not sitting by the phone no more... Mmm, are we going crazy?/It's not fair to say we wasted time/In my view we just used it all up..." Torrini sings wistfully over a mellow folk-guitar. But she tries a totally different approach to a no-letting-go-love in the titular track -- it's an upbeat jazzy song with a vaguely stalkerish sound ("Some people think that/I'm heading for a meltdown... This I know/she doesn't love you like I do/yes it's clear/she'll never love you like me...").
A number of these songs stem musically from the bittersweet folk of her last album "Fisherman's Woman" -- the haunting seaside sound of "Birds," the prettily malicious "Ha Ha," and a string of low-key, folky melodies that rely mostly on Torrini's vocals and a guitar. But she mixes up the sound a little -- some of these melodies end with a thin mat of woobly synth, and the acoustic pop number "Big Jumps" is anything but wistful and low-key. It's all sunny joyousness and fun ("Go on, make some BIG JUMPS, BIG JUMPS/you afraid to break some bones?").
And then there are some songs that, stylistically speaking, belong to "Me and Armini" alone. These tend to be a bit darker -- there's the rhythmic organ-keyboard of "Heard It All Before," and the squiggling, fast-paced rocker "Jungle Drum" ("Hey, read my lips/cause all they say is kiss kiss kiss kiss!/No one ever stops/my hands are in the air/yes I'm in love!"). And "Gun" is a masterpiece of quietly distorted guitar, with Torrini murmuring a tale of despair, infidelity and gleeful murder of a wife's lover.
Musically, Emiliana Torrini doesn't really try anything new in "Me and Armini," because she's dabbled in almost every kind of pop except symphonic metal (and for all I know she's tried that too). But she does polish up the whole electro/jazz/pop sound to near-perfection while still blending it with folky acoustics, and takes a few musical risks as well. Not that I'm complaining, because pretty much all of those risks pay off and leave you awaiting more.
Acoustic guitar takes center stage in this album, strumming gently like a forest creek under Torrini's vocals, with a few exceptions like the electric riffs in "Jungle Drum" and "Gun." And Torrini drapes those deceptively simple-sounding guitar melodies in expansive extras -- jazzy drums, patches of heavy distortion, swathes of shimmering synth, piano and soundclips of tinkly windchimes. One of the most memorable: "Heard It All Before's" thumping organ-keyboard melody getting swallowed by clashing drums and ghostly riffs.
Torrini's girlish, chilly elfin vocals are often compared to Bjork, but she frankly sounds a lot more innocent and emotional. And her songs are nice as well, tending to focus on the mysteries and pain of romantic love, and even when she sings "ha... ha... ha.... hear me laughin'" at a former lover's trouble, she sounds mournful. But she can turn on the joy just as quickly with happy bouncy calls of, "Hey there sunshine lift my heart/I know life is long but it goes so fast/I love you never feeling old/You never bought the rubbish that they sold!"
With, I might add, the occasional foray into creepyville -- that gleeful front-row seat to manslaughter and the weird obsession with Armini are chilling at times, no matter how pretty her voice is ("Stop your shaking, sweating, whining and regretting/You're making a scene that is going to get you caught...").
"Me and Armini" allows Emiliana Torrini to expand her folk sound and polish it to a jewel-like hue, with some darker facets and delightfully sweet love songs. Definitely a good listen.
This is Emiliana Torrini's 6th album although only two were released outside Iceland. Me and Armini really bridges the gap between them with some great pop numbers and some low key acoustic tracks too. Newer to the mix is the more rockier edge in places though and it suits her voice and style.
"Big Jumps" was a great choice as a single and reminds me of summer time fun (it also reminds me of "Unemployed in Summertime" however there's absolutely genius in "Jungle Drum" which sounds like a 1960's rock anthem and will be the next single. Its very catchy.
Acoustic lovers will enjoy "Bleeder", "Hold Heart" and personal favourite "Beggar's Prayer" which has a beautiful vocal section in the middle with just humming which effects you in a brilliant way.
"Gun" shows off a more edgy side to Emiliana we've not seen for a long time as its full of atmosphere and "Ha Ha" is a darker shade of Torrini too. "Dead Duck" is a fantastic piece of studio trickery as it basically goes through all the album sounds in one song.
I would recommend this to any Torrini fan no matter which album of hers you preferred and also to anyone who likes their pop a little more involved than the usual chart toppers.
What a little gem this is. One wonders if anyone who isn't already a fan of Emiliana Torrini will even look at this album, but if they do, they'll be in for a new experience.
It's not too short. It's not too long. In 12 songs, Emiliana goes from catchy pop (Big Jumps) to outrageously fun rock (Jungle Drum), with dips into dark, moody moments (Gun) and several delightful ballads. There's a little bit of everything here. Even existing fans will be surprised, because it's not really like either of her previous (internationally released) albums. Love In The Time of Science was her trip hop album, while Fisherman's Woman was so laid back, it was horizontal.
Me and Armini is another fabulous release from a sadly underrated and little heard-of songstress, who has lived too long in the shadow of Bjork. Her day deserves to come.
on 13 March 2009
Think I'm in love. This I believe is the Icelandic songbird's third British release...and it is simply beautiful. Torrini has one of the most captivating voices I have heard in years. She must be sick of these comparisons, and I'm sure it's as much to do with a shared homeland as anything else, but there are shades of Bjork in there...a certain Icelandic growl at the back of the throat...but Torrini is more gentle, more melodic, sweeter.
She sings in the moment, managing to sound both fresh and vulnerable. Just listen to Birds in the early hours, simply sublime. Her lyrics evince feelings of frailty and insecurity...but endearingly she doesn't hide these behind a tough exterior, she is a true romantic, instead she turns these observations into exquisitely turned objects of beauty, delivering each line with the delicacy and depth of watercolour on parchment. Simplicity is the key; less is more... much more. A touch of Nick Drake here, Suzanne Vega there, a passing nod at Joni Mitchell...but she is inimitably her own artist, she wears her heart on her sleeve and these songs just keep growing and growing.
The input of Dan Carey can not be overvalued here. He produced, co-wrote, and played on most of the tunes, and his delicacy of touch is a perfect compliment to Torrini. Everything restrained, understated, but handled with a deftness and surety of touch that adds layer upon layer of subtle depth. The whole album is just gorgeous!
Ignore the nay sayers who want the world to stay the same, true creativity should be unencumbered by the past...now where's that back catalogue!
i didn't mind fisherman's woman but looking at my ipod, i played it once or twice and no track made my favourites or most played.
whereas this album has the floaty pop feel that is almost instantaneous.
Best track upon first listen: birds
on 26 October 2009
A cool girl from a cool country , Emiliana Torrini emerged at the beginning of the decade with releases that flirt with folk , pop and electronica . The fact that her cv includes contributions in both the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack and Kylie Minogue's hit list ( ! ) only proves that she's talented on many levels . " Me And Armini " is another fine piece of work for her catalogue . " Big Jumps " is as catchy as they go , " Ha Ha " is heartfelt and depressing , " Jungle Drum " is fun and sexy while " Gun " with it's severe dark texture implies there is a side of her we only have yet caught a glimpse of . Although maybe not as eccentric as her fellow co-patriots Bjork and Sigur Ros , Torrini is still one of the most interesting female artists around , one to keep a close eye on for years to follow .
on 7 August 2012
Suprisingly good album by Emiliana who has her last name of her Italian father, married to her Islandic mother. Yes she has been compared with Bjork but has an more "unplugged " approach to her songs. The album represents different styles of music, e.g. Reggea ( me and Armini)
Somewhat rock like in the style of White Stripes ( Gun ) Rockabilly ( Jungle drum ). The recording sounds very direct and analogue which pleases me very much. The recording level is "up to the MAX " however, because of the small amount instruments used it hardly takes away the dynamics in the sound experience. Still my advise would be to record at a lower volume, it's just something the record companies do...they want their artists to "POP " when played on I-pod or something.
Anyway I'm very pleased with my somewhat new discovery. I'm thinkin about getting "Fisherman's woman " so maybe after a month or so you can check out my review for that. Small fact; She sang the song "Gollum's song " on LOTR !!!
on 14 March 2013
I like her other albums, but really enjoy this. She has a wonderful tone to her voice and the album as a whole is excellent. If you enjoy the likes of Lisa Hannigan or Ingrid Michaelson, give this a go.
The only track I wasn't keen on at first was Dead Duck, which doesn't seem to fit with the others, but that grew on me after a while.
on 3 February 2016
Individual songs are acceptable, but sadly as an album this one has lost direction and consistency in tempo. For example the young and groovy “Love in the Time of Science” album had an upbeat tempo and hi-fi sound. The more chilled mature folky low-fi “Fisherman's Woman” will go down as one of the most beautiful albums of all time and will see me listing to this one well into old age. I am sorry but "Me And Armini" is just too all over the place and I did not like the single Jungle Drum.