Brooklyn's Marmalade charmed pop fans around the world with Beautiful Soup, a ten-song debut of enchanting and breezy mini-epics. Author John Wray (whose book titles include The Right Hand of Sleep) leads the way on most songs, while drummer Sarah Blust sweetly sings the song "Parody Way." Opening with the genial "1899," it's instantly clear that Marmalade's music is far from brooding, instead favoring the wondrous approach of lively and charismatic indie pop. Wray showcases his flexible vocal abilities on the gritty, yet gentle, "The Ponce," easily the most impressive singing performance of the disc. "Hybrid Hearts" is a blissful classic-to-be, sounding as if it could easily find a home in the lighthearted '60s folk era, as well as the early 2000s indie pop scene. "Sister Come" follows, with horns adding to the gleeful pop flare. The disc comes to a tranquil end with the simple, acoustic gem "My Favorite Wand" and the quirky and delightful "Toast & Jams." Featuring guest appearances by Jeff Baron, Gary Olson, and Sasha Bell of Ladybug Transistor, as well as members of Skeleton Key and High/Low, Beautiful Soup turns out to be a wonderful, loose arrangement of musician friends churning out a warm, intimate disc. In the end, this album is proof of the power of simple pop chords and elegant lyrics, along with a healthy dose of instrumental experimentation. March Records unleashed Beautiful Soup in 2003.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer