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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 161 - 11/02/09

Jenny Owen Youngs
Transmitter Failure
Nettwerk / Playground

Transmitter Failure is the sophomore album of American singer/songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs. Her debut, the over-all nice Batten the Hatches implied that Youngs might be a musician to keep an eye on. And with her second album, that has proven right. Transmitter Failure shows a more grown, more playful and musically evolved Jenny Owen Youngs.

To describe the soundscapes on Transmitter Failure it is easy to point at the ways of Regina Spector, and her later works. And just think of that in a more pink, less angry and sweeter mood. But it s a bold and confident sweetness, maid out of a skilful use of strings, percussion and ukulele complementing the overall guitar based-tunes. A confidence that also makes sure that she never becomes either a shadow of mentioned Spector, or anyone else she may resemble.

Transmitter Failure opens with the 40 seconds short folkish piece "First Person" and goes in an ever-changing loop to the closing "Start + Stop", both driven by a determined ukulele, and a sound that, together with track 10 "Last person" keeps the album tight and wholesome.

This wholeness is unfortunately both the strength and weakness of the album. Since Transmitter Failure is one of those rare albums that is a much better listen as an album, than tune by tune. Maybe with the exception of "Clean Break", an up-tempo, waltzy rock tune, with a kind of sad-witty devil-may-care attitude. Definitely the peak of the album. But otherwise, the mostly dulcet and by every means good tunes, looses more stranding by themselves than they are gaining together. Like the pretty shoe-gazing tune "No More Words" that even with it's synth-up-speading midway sounds somewhat downfallen, yet, ends up balancing the surrounding country tracks in an almost perfect matter.

So, Jenny Owen Youngs has with Transmitter Failure delivered a most pleasant album. In the wholest meaning of the term. And on second thought. To criticize an album for being what an album originally was meant to be, is more contemporary odd, than an actual negative one.

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