The Singer

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"I always had the voice and now I am a singer," Teitur declares on The Singer's title track, a song that is either uncomfortably self-referential or half-hearted in its humor. As with much of Teitur's material, the arrangement is sparse and elegantly atmospheric, with vibraphones and strings underscoring the voice that Teitur so deliberately sings about. The quiet instrumentation is appealing, but the beauty of Teitur's music doesn't quite hold up when it's explicitly referenced. While 2003's Poetry & Aeroplanes benefited from Teitur's fragility and earnestness, "The Singer" paints a self-congratulatory picture of fans driving "for seven hours from all across the country," only to "break into tears" as Teitur lifts up his tremulous voice. Perhaps conceived as a thank-you letter to his audience, the track instead comes across as misguided, and The Singer wobbles under that weight for the rest of the album's eleven cuts. There are occasional highlights, of course: "Catherine the Waitress" offers up a rare dose of energy with horns, lively drums, and falsetto hoots, while "The Girl I Don't Know" is a minimalist southwestern ballad with hints of mariachi music and saloon piano. Elsewhere, Teitur achieves a sort of melancholic, low-key splendor with tracks like "Guilt by Association" and "You Should Have Seen Us," both of which benefit from the occasional stab of orchestral strings and female harmonies. Even so, the opening song continues to loom large over the album's second half, as the listener is left wondering whether or not these lightly adorned songs are really supposed to elicit tears and cross-country travel.

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