After sorting through piles and piles of music that have been accumulating in various areas around the office, resulting in nothing but disappointments or albums that just didn't quite fit my mood, a light bulb finally went off over my head. The idiot that I am, I had forgotten that the lovely people at 4AD had digitally serviced me the debut solo album of Emma Pollock. My problem was finally solved. After going through the download process and acquiring my copy, I finally found exactly what I needed.
To refresh your memory, Emma Pollock was one of the founding members of the fantastic Scottish band The Delgados. Their album Hate still ranks as one of my absolute favorites of all time. After ten years together, which resulted in five albums, as well as a Mercury Prize nomination, the band called it quits two years ago. It was difficult to not have high expectations for Pollock's debut effort as a solo artist, and Watch The Fireworks surpassed those by leaps and bounds.
The album is definitely an eclectic mix of pure pop, orchestral splendor and delicate folk, all held together by her soul stirring vocals. She worked with producer Victor van Vugt, who helped craft albums for Nick Cave and PJ Harvey. From the opening seconds of "New Land," it is instantly obvious that Pollock has re-launched her musical career with a collection of songs that will not only appeal to fans of her days in The Delgados, but will also help snag plenty of new followers as well.
The keyboard-powered waltz of "New Land" is followed by the edgy "Acid Test." On this one, drawing plenty of inspiration from the heyday of early '90s alternative rock. You know, back when you could turn on the radio and hear tracks from Belly, which I hear a bit of in this particular track. As much as I enjoyed tracks such as this and "Paper And Glue," Pollock truly shines on her ballads, including the stunning "Limbs." The track is nothing more than acoustic guitar and piano, placing her beautiful vocals firmly in the spotlight.
The first single off Fireworks, "Adrenaline," blasts off with piano and rumbling drums. By the time she gets to the chorus, it rockets into orbit, once again looking back to the days of '90s female alt rock, with a dash of Tori Amos. There truly isn't a dud on this fine album, which concludes with the downtempo beauty of "The Optimist." There is no doubt that Emma Pollock is an exceptional songwriter and musician on her own, and although I'll still miss The Delgados, I will happily enjoy this new chapter in her musical career.