Collette Carter: The New Stroboscopic

Collette Carter
The New Stroboscopic
Blind Organization
2001-10-23

Synths. I love ’em, as any six months worth of my reviews should prove, especially under the fingers of an Alan Wilder, a Joe Jackson — people who have a gift for, or love of, the instrument. Wilynda and Rod, who are Collette Carter, clearly love synths too (they also love each other, having been together for 11 years. And more power to them). But, based on the evidence of this album, I’m not sure I’d say they have a gift for them.

The songs here are bright, shiny things that don’t leave you with any strong identification, like Christmas lights in June. Part of the problem is the production decision to bury Wilynda’s voice in the mix, but a trip to the web site to check out the lyrics confirms that they’re not really worth hearing anyway:

“this conversation
on dissipation
is for yr consolidation”

“this new stroboscopic
cleans out all my pockets
i need an outlet”

Like My Favorite’s Joan of Arc Awaiting Trial, Collette Carter’s The New Stroboscopic is the kind of CD that plays right into my hands: Techno-driven, synthetically composed and textured electro-pop. Yet it never really makes a solid hit. All the elements are there, but loving an album is in some ways like loving a person, you can’t make yourself do it if you don’t, even if there’s every reason why you should.

I would likely hire Wilynda and Rod as a producing-arranging team, but as songwriters they need to make a few more trips to the well. This is the kind of record which begs the question: Why should you listen to it? True, it’s pleasant enough to listen to, but lots of records are pleasant. It’s difficult to build a career on being pleasant (Enya notwithstanding). To compel listening, a record must reward listening. It’s really as simple as that.

There is a unique chemical element that separates the craftspeople from the artists in pop, which is, basically, talent. Having already made a comparison to synth-poppers My Favorite, perhaps the best thing I can say for Collette Carter is that they set that band off so nicely. They’re so slight, they make the other look greater.

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