Promises are made to be broken.
Caroline is an Okinawan-American singer/songwriter and “Murmurs” — I think — is her first and only album. When I learned about this information I was greatly disappointed that there wasn’t more music of her’s out there. It’s really too bad because I saw a lot of untapped potential in her, even though “Murmurs” is quite lacking in some areas.
“Murmurs” is slow techno-pop. Synth drums, keyboards, the works, everything you’d expect from a techno/trance album is here. A lot of the songs tend to be slow and low-key. The easiest comparison I can make here is that Caroline is like a Japanese Imogen Heap. Take that for what you will. Much of the instrumentation, I find, is pretty predictable and serves its purpose. The real point of intrigue is Caroline’s voice.
Caroline sounds like a small person trying to sound bigger than they actually are – puffing out their chest and raising their hands in the air wildly. She has a tiny voice, as most of the Japanese female singers I’ve heard do. It works pretty well. Songs like “Drove Me to the Wall,” especially in the chorus, makes her sound like she’s trying to be powerful but fails and kind of comes off as cute, which I find endearing in an odd way.
Unfortunately besides Caroline’s voice, there isn’t much interesting content in this album. The songs have a great atmosphere to them, but the tone is held throughout the entirety of the album and rarely deviates. A lot of the same tricks are used; the same chord structures, the set of sounds. It has a great set of songs to listen to individually but as a whole comes off as fairly uncreative.
My inner Japanophile wants to really like this album – and, believe me, I do to some degree – but on the basis that I don’t think it actually does anything original, I can’t really recommend it. It’s simple pop music and it doesn’t really need to be innovative, but when all of the songs sound the same and you make it obvious that they do, it’s hard to not get frustrated by that.
WHY: Caroline Lufkin is a good songwriter and “Murmurs” has good songs on it — the problem is that they’re all the same and it just doesn’t work as a whole product.