Everything But the Girl


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Everything but the Girl's resurrection as a sophisticated electronica outfit may have been unpredictable, but it certainly revitalized the duo's music. Prior to 1996's Walking Wounded, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn had taken their charming, jazzy acoustic pop as far as it could go. Adding electronica, primarily drum'n'bass and trip-hop, to the equation broke their potential wide open, as the captivating, seductive Walking Wounded proved. It was such a drastic, fulfilling departure that it did raise the question of where they go from here; its 1999 sequel, Temperamental, answers that by offering more of the same, except just a little different. Temperamental tempers the lightly skittering drum'n'bass and eliminates trip-hop, yet retains the same feel as Walking Wounded. House music -- everything from classic '80s house to contemporary house -- serves as the musical foundation, which actually opens the doors for slight jazzy inflections, along with long, hypnotizing instrumental passages (most notably on "Compression"). Weirdly, it also serves as a good setting for a batch of songs that are essentially in the singer/songwriter vein. In fact, there aren't as many clear pop hooks here as there were on Walking. "Five Fathoms," "Tempermental," and a couple of other tracks work as singles, but the album is a more of a meditative, reflective piece, like a singer/songwriter album -- except it's dressed in sultry, evocative electronic dance music. That means, of course, that Temperamental isn't all that different than its predecessor, but its blend of house, electronica, pop, jazz, and folk is equally satisfying as that landmark album.

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