Caroline - Verdugo Hills
The unassuming moniker gives the listener their first cue that this one is gonna be understated. Better to be that than overhyped though, and Caroline Lufkin's collaborative effort with musical partner Andreas Bjork is a little treasure. Verdugo Hills is an album that can be commended for its brevity because, in just a short space of time and ten tracks, it creates its own dreamy swirl of a mood. Dreamy seems to be what Caroline was going for, considering song titles include 'Sleep' and 'Lullabye', but don't despair, I'm not declaring it a Dido. This is electronic music for people who don't dance on a Saturday night, and within that genre this sits as a solidly constructed, frequently delectable offering. The minimalist pop arrangements set Caroline's breathy vocals, which walk the childlike/sensual tightrope without a misstep, against both electronic and acoustic elements. The electronica is what gives Verdugo Hills its cinematic heartbeat though, retaining the fragility of the songs while ensuring they don't slip away into nothing. Highlights include 'Swimmer', which requires no stretch to imagine soundtracking a choice indie celluloid romance, and 'Seesaw', casting Caroline as sultry Emily Haines-style vixen as the backdrop gets its Kid A on. Meanwhile, 'Snow' adds horns into the mix for a Björk-style final feat while the aforementioned 'Lullabye' highlights the clever production, harsh beats and stuttering Macbook sounds providing perfectly placed icy stabs that punctuate the warm delicacy of strings. File this one alongside Emiliani Torrini, Husky Rescue and anything Zero 7 did with ethereal female vocalists, and you may find yourself playing it more than you might think. I already have.