[23 October 2000]
Don’t mistake 23-year-old Emiliana Torrini for Björk. They may both share Icelandic accents and a love for ambient electronic sounds, but Torrini deserves her own time in the spotlight.
Torrini’s debut solo album, Love in the Time of Science, is already a huge success in Europe, but the United States is catching up. Both Paper and CMJ New Music magazines featured her in their December issues.
Though there are some commonalities between Torrini and Björk, the fine-tuned ear will notice distinctions.
The electronic orchestrations in Torrini’s album are somewhat reminiscent of Björk’s dramatic clammoring. The distinction is that Torrini’s orchestrations are a little more smooth, a little more pop-like. This is not a criticism, but rather a distinction in style. Torrini doesn’t get as experimental with form or instrumentation. This means there’s not a song on the album to skip. There are no dull songs and no trivial songs. Every sound, every note, has its place in the album. Nothing is extraneous. Not even the lyrics.
This is where the album becomes even more incredible. Torrini’s lyrics are simple. In her CMJ interview, she said that she focuses on the small things in life. For example, in “Tuna Fish” she sings, “I am lying in my bed, watching a spider eat a fly”. She continues to describe her minute-by-minute actions of the day to paint a vivid picture of her chorus that states, “how days creep by”. She adds seemingly trivial points such as, “You know that tuna fish float up to the surface, belly to the moonlight just to cool their heart down”. Torrini’s lyrics point out little things, that many people just don’t think about in day-to-day life.
In “Unemployed in Summertime” she sings, “Let’s get drunk on Saturday / Walk up Primrose Hill until we lose our way / We’ll get sunburned on the grass”. In this song, she paints a carefree picture—one of youth, freedom and bliss. The chorus goes, “Unemployed in summertime, only just turned 21, it’ll be okay. Unemployed in summertime, don’t need money ‘cause we’re young…”
The album jumps from epic and dramatic songs, such as “To Be Free” and “Telepathy” to upbeat and carefree songs, such as “Unemployed in Summertime” and “Easy”. There is not a dull or repetitious song on it.
Torrini’s throaty Icelandic voice combined with her incredible songcrafting make Life in the Time of Science a must for anyone who likes well-crafted electronic music in the vein of Portishead or Hooverphonic. Keep an eye on this up-and-coming pop diva. There’s much more in store from her.