Music

Sarah McLachlan: Bloom Remix Album

The producers of the remixes on Bloom do everything they can to make the songs their own, but the centerpiece remains McLachlan's beautiful voice.


Sarah McLachlan

Bloom Remix Album

Label: Arista
US Release Date: 2005-09-06
UK Release Date: 2005-09-05
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Insound affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

In listening to the Bloom Remix Album, the second venture into compiling a full-length Sarah McLachlan release with the remixes that normally adorn her singles, a few things occur to me:

Sarah McLachlan's voice has become stronger over the years. In her early days, McLachlan was confined to the playlists of those who would appreciate a female artiste, someone uncompromising and fearless, someone entrenched deeply in "alternative" culture. "Vox", the only track here from McLachlan's debut album Touch, displays a voice far different than that of the rest of the album. The release of Fumbling Toward Ecstasy marked a turning point for Ms. McLachlan's voice, as she injected it with sensuality and sensitivity, a sound that she has developed to the point of constant lullaby on the songs from her most recent proper album, Afterglow. Listening to that evolution on Bloom, the sentiment that "Vox" was carelessly tossed in here as a token early track for the diehard fans would be a difficult one to avoid, if not for one thing:

Sarah McLachlan's songwriting has become weaker over the years. Don't get me wrong -- I loved Surfacing as much as any soccer mom, and I think it's a lovely, well-produced album. The thing is, in listening to "Vox" and the remixes from Fumbling Towards Ecstacy and comparing them to the Afterglow tracks, there's a disconnect where metaphor is replaced by cliché, inventive melody replaced by schlock. It's still some of the prettiest, heartstring-tugging schlock around, but it's schlock nonetheless. But then, this isn't just a Sarah McLachlan album, it's a Sarah McLachlan Remix album, the point of which is to take the emphasis off of artistry, and put it on adrenaline. Of course, this exposes the fact that

It's difficult to dance when Sarah McLachlan is singing. There are plenty of proper dance tracks on Bloom, including a well-produced take on "World on Fire" and a version of "Stupid" that actually dirties up the original a little bit, with more minor keys and an emphasis on the distorted guitars that made the original somewhat listenable. Still, McLachlan's voice is so soothing as to beg examination, even when there are beats crashing and synths squelching behind her. It's tough to want to dance when the vocalist is so busy soothing and caressing. So it holds to reason that

The chill-out tracks on Bloom are lovely. The "Dusted Mix" of Fumbling Towards Ecstacy's "Ice" is exquisite, and the downtempo masters in Thievery Corporation turn Afterglow's closing track "Dirty Little Secret" into a shimmering trip-hop tune. Talvin Singh does a solid job with "Answer", adding his trademark brand of Eastern charm while almost totally eschewing beats completely. They're all lovely pieces that wisely avoid drawing attention from McLachlan's voice, a pitfall that one particular track on Bloom can't help but fall into, helping to prove one of the fallacies of the modern-day remix album:

If a song on a remix album only features the artist on the album credit, it's bound to sound out of place. The inclusion of the "will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas Mix" of a DMC (yes, that DMC) song, where McLachlan's only purpose is to sing the chorus of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" feels like a cheap attempt at appealing to a hip-hop demographic by previewing a track from DMC's forthcoming album, not to mention a way to boost the list of artists contributing to the album. DMC, for his part, sounds fine (if a little stilted), but in this selection of songs, his presence is jarring and unnecessary. Couldn't we have fit another remix of a track from Touch or Solace in here?

Ultimately, all of the above adds up to an album that is, y'know, kind of nice. Sarah McLachlan fans, particularly those partial to Afterglow (which, admittedly, isn't all that many), are likely to enjoy hearing their favorite songs in a new light, much as they did two years ago when Arista released the first Sarah McLachlan remix album. Everyone else will be left wondering why Bloom even exists in the first place.

5

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image