Would-Be-Goods

Eventyr

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    7
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Like much of the Would-Be-Goods' discography, Eventyr feels distinguished, well-mannered, and adroit. It almost feels like the predominant aesthetic is Britishness -- and it's not just because frontwoman Jessica Griffin's warm, precise vocals are graced with a distinct Received Pronunciation accent. There's a kind of fogginess to their sound, a kind of stiff-upper-lip-ness, a kind of stereotypical British soft-spokenness. This is especially true of this release, if only because it's so unabashedly tactful, well-kempt, and refined. Eventyr is styled in dramatic, mysterious, '60s-inspired pop that nods to the Left Banke (especially on "Melusine"), Mortimer, and the Turtles; Eventyr ranges from Baroque pop-inspired elegance ("In Bohemia"), to jangley, C-86-style pop ("Temporary Best Friend"), to monologue-style songs that wouldn't be out of place at a cabaret ("Venusberg"). Cabaret is a good touchstone here, as the songs often feel like tableaux -- you get a sense that things are staged, and that each song has a set of props and characters ("Venusberg," "In Bohemia," "Pleasure Island"). This stylized, theatrical feel is only accentuated by the numerous literary allusions ("Tin Heart" is a reference to Hans Christian Anderson's Steadfast Tin Soldier). The whole thing has an atmosphere of half-grinning mystery and intrigue -- in its intelligence and wry sense of humor, Eventyr often has the feel of a series of Edward Gorey drawings. At its best, this approach yields some languid, mysterious pop tunes; in its weaker moments, it feels like the same (albeit elegant) note is being struck over and over again. It might have been nice if the Would-Be-Goods had focused on coming up with more songs in the vein of "Temporary Best Friend," which offers a refreshing departure from the theatrical material -- it's by and large the best offering here, a perfect blend of shambly guitars and Griffin's wry, melancholy vocals.

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