Science For Girls: Science For Girls
Science For Girls

Science for Girls could be classified as “electronic easy-listening” but one hesitates to label it as such, fearing that doing so could discourage potential listeners. NYC producer Darren Solomon's ten-song collection is splendidly crafted, with arrangements thoughtfully conceived and the material itself artfully realized. That's the key, incidentally: they're carefully-composed songs, not tracks, that have more in common with Paul Simon, say, than Autechre (one could easily imagine Simon's croon in place of Boots Ottesta's during the slightly funky “Northern Lights”). Having a different singer appear on each song (the vocalists culled from New York 's indie scene) lends variety to a project held together by the recurring presence of electric piano and programmed beats and an overall mellow jazz-electronica feel.

“14 Days” opens the album with a breezy lilt that connects it to Brazilian pop, especially when Bronwen Exter's pure voice enters, and the song's understated arrangement of strings, flugelhorn, electric piano, and acoustic guitar deepens the serene mood. The closest the album comes to conventional electronic music is when programmed breakbeats and vocoders conjoin in “You'll Never Know”; thankfully the novelty effect of the synthetic voice is countered by the natural sound of an accompanying choir, and the song's scurrying rhythms prove appealing too. In “Violets,” the pairing of a jazzy trip-hop groove with Renee Cologne's dramatic vocal brings back memories of Sade's “Smooth Operator” while “Sonnet 96” infuses the album with a classical feel by adopting Shakespeare's words for lyrics.

Alas, the album isn't without an occasional lapse. Sung by Paul Brill, the poppy “Australia” starts off in The Postal Service mode but the song's too-cute lyrics (“I wanna live in Australia / I want to do like the Aussies do / Eat some shrimp off the barbecue / Take a ride on a kangaroo”) end up aligning it more closely to The Beach Boy's ghastly “Kokomo.” In the long run, however, Science for Girls' better moments outnumber the not-so-great by a considerable margin, and Solomon's to be commended for tackling a project so ambitious in style and spirit.

June 2008