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Music review: Niobe – White Hats April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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In Greek mythology, Niobe was a tragic figure who bragged about her 14 children and was punished by the death of her entire family. Justifiably upset, she ran to Mount Sipylus where she wept until she turned into stone.

Niobe’s music (real name Yvonne Cornelius) is much like the icy cliffs of mountains, which is also pictured on the cover of “White Hats.” Although the first track sends a vibe of dark seediness, the following tracks are warped versions of something someone would create while sniffing a little too much thin air on the top of a mountain.

This has been hailed as Niobe’s “accessible” album, but there are only two real pop songs and the rest are only accessible if you compare them to her past album “Voodooluba.” It’s a little strange to go from “Drei Zinnen,” a distorted version of ’30s music to “Up Hill and Down Dale,” a song that spews glittery disco balls.

The real win here is Cornelius’ voice, which in some songs are distorted or layered in interesting ways. “Touch This Flower” has her best vocal work and is one of the few songs where her voice is bare and unfiltered. “None But One,” easily the best track on the album, would have benefited from more songs like it, but instead it sticks out like Paris Hilton at Harvard.

Unlike “Voodooluba” and “Tse Tse,” “White Hats” doesn’t feel unified. It seems Cornelius is getting in touch with lots of new ideas, but it’s not all coming together. But then again, the ups and downs of the album could also be tied to the feeling of weaving through hills. Whatever the interpretation, “White Hats” is sure to capture some new fans.

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