Chop Chop: Screens

If you’ve ever wondered what it might sound like if Liz Phair listened to a lot of Portishead, you’ll want to drop whatever you’re doing and order a copy of Chop Chop’s Screens right now – these 12 tracks surround Catherine Cavanagh’s frail, icy vocals with cheap-sounding digital rhythms, drape the occasional French horn or xylophone over the framework, and call it pop. The record has plenty of vibe, and loads of the I-love-you-leave-me-alone attitude that we crave from our indie chick singers, but it rarely rises above mood music; vast stretches of Screens don’t do much besides wander around slowly in search of a hook, and the performances are so dispassionate that you can listen to the album half a dozen times without feeling like it’s any closer to letting you in. The band has previously covered Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” so you know they’ve heard music that successfully contrasts messy human emotions with machine-driven precision – they just didn’t bother, or weren’t able, to come up with any of it here. Screens is a fine record for playing while you’re curled up under the covers on a rainy day, crying about your latest heartbreak. Just don’t expect to feel like listening to it on many other occasions. (Arch Enemy 2008)

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