Mia Doi Todd

The Golden State

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On each of her previous albums, Mia Doi Todd had progressively moved more deeply into minimalism, recording Come Out of Your Mine after midnight in a church on the Yale campus with a single engineer and then dispensing with outside embellishment entirely on Zeroone, retreating into her home with only a computer and her acoustic guitar. So it is startling at first to hear Todd's music as dressed up as it is on her major-label debut. Startling, but ultimately quite electrifying. Those who had followed the singer/songwriter's career closely up to this point were likely aware of the reworked version of "Digital" (which had appeared in its original form on Zeroone) that Todd contributed to the electronica compilation Dublab Presents: Freeways in 2001, which suggested a transition in her music. That direction shift finds its culmination on The Golden State. The reworked "Digital" is included, as are fresh incarnations of "Autumn" (The Ewe and the Eye), "Independence Day" and "Hijikata" (Come Out of Your Mine), and "Merry Me," "Like a Knife," and "Poppy Fields" (Zeroone). In a sense, this makes the album an omnibus collection of her finest songs. In a grander sense, though, it marks a new beginning, as many of the songs are provided elegant ambient glosses by producers Mitchell Froom, with his layers of keyboards, and Yves Beauvais, thus rewiring them entirely. That leaves three new songs, all of them of a piece with and the quality of her past work, particularly the quiescent "Growing Pains." The Golden State performs an important function. With its subtle textural enhancement, the album renders the esoteric pleasures of Todd's compositions and highly individual songs considerably more accessible. Fans of the earlier albums, in fact, might think too accessible (she occasionally recalls both Beth Orton and Natalie Merchant here, whereas before she sounded like no one else). Regardless, it is a wholly engrossing work.

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