Between Purple and Pink

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A highlight, though a mixed one, of the original Area days, at the start Purple features both Frayne and Canfield in excelsis, his lush guitar work blending perfectly with her clear, soothing vocals. Those familiar with their work in the Moon Seven Times will find this album even more spare and haunting than that band, and at the same time often more driving, with a post-punk, steady drumming evident on more songs than not. If anything, a slightly more commercial sense of '80s goth crops up (unsurprisingly, given the C'est La Mort label associations), thus the drum machines and sparkling synths on "Brave Parade." The only real problem is when Frayne's guitarwork disappears for a huge stretch of the album's length; while Canfield's vocals are beyond reproach, the electronic backing simply isn't gripping enough compared to others' work in that field -- at least not all the time. (There are honorable exceptions, though: "Rail," which only appeared on the CD version of the original release, has the gently spooky feel of a music box, and is quite captivating as a result.) Consequently, the album can get a little too mushy at points. The overly precious "Guessing Game," for example, has too many lounge-keyboards and no guitar at all, likening the song to the type of music you hear during a soap opera's "dark romance" episodes (or to be more generous, a take on what Julee Cruise was doing at around the same time, but not as successful as that). Canfield's eye for ruminative and slice-of-life lyrics definitely serves her and the band well here, though. For instance, her lyrical details of "taking out the trash and drinking cold coffee" on "Robin" is the type of thing more self-consciously arty types would never consider touching in their work.

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