Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn of Everything but the Girl have done their share of style-hopping, from jazz pop to Britpop to orchestral pop to contemporary R&B to jazzy R&B. Their seventh album, 1996's Walking Wounded, finds t... more »he duo landing, good as new, onto the dance floor with a batch of songs based around techno-derived beats. The shift toward electronics may seem extreme for a group that courted adult audiences, but given the huge success of their 1994 beat-driven remix single "Missing" and their fruitful collaborations on Massive Attack's breakthrough trip-hop record Protection, the rewards of embracing club sounds had already been well proven. Everything but the Girl's music has always focused on Thorn's lush, soulful voice--a tribute to its versatility, it weathered well through all the group's stylistic incarnations. Walking Wounded, however, introduces a second focal point in the insanely attractive, intricately sculpted beats of the jungle offshoot drum & bass. On cuts like "Before Today," "Single," and the title track, the interaction of a beat's minutely detailed rhythms and a voice that rides smoothly over the top makes for an elegant symbiosis. And even with the help of progressive dance specialists like Howie B. and Spring Heel Jack, Everything but the Girl retains a maturity that shouldn't alienate old fans. --Roni Sarig« less
Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn of Everything but the Girl have done their share of style-hopping, from jazz pop to Britpop to orchestral pop to contemporary R&B to jazzy R&B. Their seventh album, 1996's Walking Wounded, finds the duo landing, good as new, onto the dance floor with a batch of songs based around techno-derived beats. The shift toward electronics may seem extreme for a group that courted adult audiences, but given the huge success of their 1994 beat-driven remix single "Missing" and their fruitful collaborations on Massive Attack's breakthrough trip-hop record Protection, the rewards of embracing club sounds had already been well proven. Everything but the Girl's music has always focused on Thorn's lush, soulful voice--a tribute to its versatility, it weathered well through all the group's stylistic incarnations. Walking Wounded, however, introduces a second focal point in the insanely attractive, intricately sculpted beats of the jungle offshoot drum & bass. On cuts like "Before Today," "Single," and the title track, the interaction of a beat's minutely detailed rhythms and a voice that rides smoothly over the top makes for an elegant symbiosis. And even with the help of progressive dance specialists like Howie B. and Spring Heel Jack, Everything but the Girl retains a maturity that shouldn't alienate old fans. --Roni Sarig
"This album is a downright miracle. When I purchased it in June of 1996 (the first of 7 copies so far) I was at a very pivotal point in my life and this LP helped my transition in ways I almost can't express. My best friend Rebecca let me drive her crazy playing this EVERYWHERE we went for 2 years! The opener "Before Today" will hook you immediately with it's ambient synths and Tracy Thorn's aching yet confident singing introducing the song which soon dives into bass-heavy staccato beats and keyboards before wafting away in the mist again........simply magnificent! Ben Watt's lyrics on this and every other track are of special note, "Before Today" perfectly balances bravado and vulnerability ('my heart is that much harder now, that's what I thought before today') and the insecurity we all carry into the world with us each day and that linger after a relationship has ended ('do you like being single?, do you want me back?' from "Single" which brilliantly employs a sample of an old Tim Buckley song). Two acoustic-guitar based songs ("The Heart Remains A Child" and "Mirrorball") hearken back to the duo's early sound but manage to fit perfectly into this musical setting and give the album a nice organic, human feel. The title song is an absolute heartbreaker that will haunt the mind and senses of anyone who's been rejected by an ex-lover. Not letting go has never sounded so beautiful, yearning, and innovative at the same time! Over a masterful, slow-paced, string-laden drum'n'bass track, the heroine of this piece (Tracy can play the victim so well) expresses herself in such agonizing detail you almost feel voyeuristic listening to her. The lyrics perfectly capture the gamut of emotions one feels after an emotional tragedy; confusion, loss, sadness, anger, blame and injury all in the space of one song ( 'out amongst the walking wounded, every face on every bus, is you and me and him and her, and nothing can replace the us I knew'), listening to this centerpiece of the album, one truly gets the sense that relationships and human emotions are far too fragile to be toyed with. Ben Watts' production never falters, for a man who was apparently new to the whole drum'n'bass sound just shortly before this release, he attacks his duties with such fervor his joy at discovering new sounds and textures is evident on every track. Ms. Thorn has never sang better in her life, she seems revitalized yet relaxed and assured in her delivery, she knows she sounds great and enjoys breaking new ground. This is what evolving as an artist is all about, being fearless and taking chances with your sound, looks (check out Tracy primping in her mirror with Ben chillin' next to her in the back of a plush Lincoln on the CD cover!) and forcing your audience to follow and grow along with you. The transformation here is astonishing and it paid off, both creatively and commercially for the duo and their fans and for this gift to world of music, to Everything But The Girl I Thank You. This release gets my highest praise. ESSENTIAL LISTENING."
Electronic music that you can take to bed with you...
Christian Hunter | Austin, TX and Santa Barbara, CA, | 03/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...among other places. "Walking Wounded" ranks as one of my favorite albums of all time. I was a late adopter of EBTG falling in love with their most recent release ("Tempermental" in '99), and then devouring their work backwards. EBTG's sounds have morphed very significantly since the 80's but I would say that "Tempermental" and "Walking Wounded" are quite similar (Tempermental is my personal favorite). This band is always at the razors edge of innovation. As evidence, this album could be considered "modern" if released today despite its being almost a decade old. Similar to "Tempermental" in theme, this CD is even more melancholy; centered around the pain in losing love, coming to grips with a new life, and suffering the understandably conflicted feelings of blame, optimism, and nostalgia as a newly single woman...Aside from the extraordinarily addictive rhythms, the asymmetrical tempo of percussion and base, the ominous sounding samples that pepper this entire album, it's the voice of Tracey Thorn that stitches everything together, softening it, warming the clinical into the comfortable...as I note in the title of this review, this is one of those few electronic CD's that, despite the occassional speed in tempo, I take to bed with me.Every song on the album is worth getting acquainted with, although my favorites are:"Single"...if this isn't THE SONG to listen to post-breakup to stir your emotions (as if they'd need any more rousing)..."Before Today"...just as with "Single", this song shares the same theme but is laid against more determination (vs. resignation); much faster, and less likely to make you...well, let's just say it's less likely to make you feel very emotional (forgive me, but I'm a man and would rather not be advertising the potential of this song to "make you cry")."Walking Wounded"...erratic electronic tempo (which may be an intentional reflection of the kind of conflicted and pained emotions she attempts to convey in her lyrics) set against hauntingly beautiful vocals."Good Cop Bad Cop"...i almost always forget to play this song when I'm listening to this CD (it's track 9); just a gem of a song. Very simple lyrics (almost all hook) set to a background that oscillates between near silence, and machine-gun fast percussion.I really couldn't say enough good things about this album. For those of you who've only heard what's been played on the radio, and love it, absolutely buy a CD from this group. I guess the only question would be "which one". As I mentioned earlier, "Tempermental" is my favorite album of theirs, but not by too wide a margin. If you find yourself absolutely in love with this type sound I'm afraid I won't be much help in finding you a close match, although consider checking out "Zero 7", their new album "When It Falls" is a fantastic (albeit slower) type sound with similarly beautiful vocals against modern and interesting rhthyms.Hope this helped."
Music to live vicariosly through
Sadiqa L. Dickens | Jersey Shore, NJ | 12/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you have ever had your heart broken, been unsure of yourself, or pondered you own emotional state...this is the album for you.
I bought this album b/c first off, I love Tracey Thorn's voice.If you took the rasp out of Dusty Springfield then dipped her voice in honey..thats what Tracey's voice is like. Second..I liked the club/electronica sound of Temperamental and thought that since this album was their first big push in that direction , that I might like it as well- BIG Understatement. This album has it all...nice beats, nice melodies..Tracey's voice..but the kicker is..its not just cheesy anthem lyrics (you broke my heart in two, you left me blue etc etc) these lyrics are some of the most personally reflective and insightful lyrics I have ever heard...and the fact that they show up on a dance record can be quite suprising if you are not on the lookout for it, as I was.The best of the best- personally, my fave on the album is Heart Remains a Child...just the best lyrics...and I could personally relate to it, b/c I had lived those lyrics...very very insightful. Then there is Walking Wounded..another great angsty song and then the singing and beat on 'I Was Wrong 'is just the best, I always jam along to that one. The good songs on that album are to numerous to name in one review..but suffice it say, there are few songs(if any, which i dont think there are) that make me reach for the FF button. Just a great great album for you feet and for your mind and heart- A.N."
Electronica with a rare human touch
calvin wong | Australia | 10/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike most other bands that would either stick with a winning formula or gently move into another direction progressively, Everything But The Girl has leaped into the competitive genre of electronica with surprising results. The dance scene is already suffocated with an array of choices but EBTG has managed to hold their own with gusto and sensitivity. While the lyrical content has stayed true to the band's writing artistry, their sound has definitely moved onto another plain which not only complements the melodies within, but also Tracey's intimate story telling. Highlights of the album include the heart wrenching, "Single"; sparse drum and bass outing of "Walking Wounded"; the reflective "Good Cop Bad Cop" and the melancholic "Mirrorball". Flawless vocals, tight complex rhythms. The marriage of electronica and human emotions has never been so personal and beautiful."