The Vincent Black Shadow

Fear's in the Water

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Singer Cassandra Ford is by far the best part of Vancouver alt-rockers the Vincent Black Shadow. Possessing a strong voice that's both technically excellent and filled with personality, Ford is in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being a lot better than her band. Fear's in the Water isn't a bad record, it's just that Ford and keyboardist Mary Ancheta (who decorates the songs with bits of harpsichord, synth and jazzy cabaret-style piano) are working on a much different plane than the remaining three members of the band. Those guys are making a generic alt-rock album in the style of Garbage or the Foo Fighters, while Ford's far more appealing vocals and clever lyrics, and Ancheta's vibrant keyboards are working in a territory closer to their fellow Vancouverites the New Pornographers and Destroyer on songs like the immediately striking opener "Metro" (which features a terrific double-time vocal hook) and the bouncy, swinging "The House of Tasteful Men." If the rest of the band were on Ford and Ancheta's wavelength, Fear's in the Water would be a complete delight. As it stands, it's a mildly frustrating mess.

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