Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...
Sara Bareilles “Kaleidoscope Heart”
Sara Bareilles is responsible for one of the most recognized piano pop tunes of the last decade, but without any memorable tunes after “Love Song”, most people have probably written her off as a one-hit wonder (read our review of her last record, “Little Voice” here). But I wouldn’t be so fast. While I don’t hear anything grabbing my ears as immediately as “Love Song” did, “Kaleidoscope Heart” has its dazzling moments. There is plenty of bouncy piano pop that fans have grown to love, with “Uncharted” and “King of Anything” leading the pack, and a couple of unexpected pleasures like the acoustic ballad “Basket Case” (yeah, I was hoping for a Green Day cover too, but it’s not!). “Hold My Heart” and “Breathe Again” are two more sweeping ballads that are very well done. I think Bareilles has delivered a follow up that is even better than “Little Voice” and in a just world she’ll avoid the one-hit wonder label.
Crowded House “Intriguer”
I’m always routing for Crowded House. A fan since their huge debut in 1986, I have long been enchanted by the subtle melodies crafted by Neil Finn (and his brother Tim). But to be honest, I got limited enjoyment out of the 2007 reunion album “Time On Earth” and I am even less thrilled with “Intriguer”. With the disclaimer that I usually don’t appreciate the songwriting genius of Neil Finn until a few spins later, I have to say this one is a real snoozer. “Saturday Sun” and “Inside Out” are about as peppy as they get this time around, and unfortunately the many ballads here are not as engaging as I had hoped. While some will argue this one is perfect for a rainy day, I’d much rather replay my Finn Brothers record from 2005, “Everyone Is Here”, instead.