Heligoland

Heligoland

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Tim Friese-Greene's first full-length solo album (an EP had been released in 2000), Heligoland both illustrates how far from Talk Talk he had gone and what essence he brought to the group. The dreaminess and refinement of the group's latter days is still there, but the songs take a British alt-rock form. The album was self-recorded with small means and a D.I.Y. attitude (cheap keyboards, understated musicianship). Friese-Greene handles all vocals, bass, guitars, and keyboards. Jim White provides drums on a few tracks (a drum machine does the rest) and Catherine Wheel members have supplied the odd reed or string track. The singer's delivery and light alienated mood of his songs strongly recall Radiohead circa OK Computer, albeit less grandiose (some would say pompous). "Lost and Lethal," "Bluebird," and "Loaded Gun" will appeal to their fans and for all the good reasons -- they are intelligent and instantly catchy songs. Hidden at the end of "The Kiss-Off" (to avoid royalties?) is an off-kilter rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," funnier than actually good. Heligoland reaches beyond the circle of initiates; it has mainstream appeal for the blasé Brit-pop crowd.

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