Act on "Instinct"
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 12/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""You're not seventeen/To be missing him like/You do," murmurs Nicola Hitchcock. Mandalay's sophomore album "Instinct" sticks to that song's style -- wistful, trembling trip-hop. These are romantic ballads for the fragile romantic lurking in your heart.
It opens with "Not Seventeen," a wistful ballad that dwells on how a girl can miss her love, and tries to stem her feelings by saying that "I'm not innocent/ And I know that I could/I'm not seventeen/And I know that you're not/To blame." But it's made clear that her feelings won't be denied, as Hitchcock trembles her way to the end.
"Not Seventeen" followed by equally exquisite songs like "It's Enough Now," a breathily urgent pop song, the wounded fragility of "Like Her," and the soaring "Deep Love." Only the trippy, discordant "Don't Invent Me" sheds the vulnerability -- though the song is as lovelorn as ever, it sounds stronger and almost playful.
"Instinct" leans a bit more on the trip-hop than the pop edge, with a bit of symphonic grandeur mixed in with the horns and strings (or electronic approximations of them), paired with sparkling electronic waves. This is definitely music to slow-dance to -- the sweet tone and abundance of love songs demands it.
Hitchcock's voice is the heart of Mandalay. Her singing is a bit wobbly and very sweet, like a lost child; the trembling vocals in "Not Seventeen" add to the sense of frightened innocence. And her songs are quite pretty. They're a bit high-school-love-poetry in their simplicity, but they are pleasant, especially when they stay simple. It's strangely touching when she sings "The simple things/The time reveals/Will heal your mind/In simple things/The time reveals/You will be mine."
But if Hitchcock is the heart, then Saul Freeman's electronic production is the soul. He creates a downtempo, almost jazzy sound, but switches over to soundscapes that stop just short of being epic, and the cascading electronic waves. "Don't Invent Me" is particularly blessed, with its horns and shooting-star effects.
"Instinct" is a worthy second album for Mandalay, a group that sadly only made four. Exquisite, fragile and deeply romantic, this is Portishead as a vulnerable teenager."
Mandalay = Beautiful Music
Liam Maloney | Gtr Manchester, Lancashire United Kingdom | 09/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply put mandalay are possibly one of the most emotional groups I've ever heard. They've broken up now which is a pity.
Nicola Hitchcocks vocals are really unmatched by anyone. Her voice is really imperfect and there are thoasands of better vocalists out there. But the way she sings is amazing. She has a very thin, floaty voice but with all this pent up emotion hiding behind it. Its easy to imagine that shes crying while singing every track on this album.All the mandalay albums are amazing. I'd put off buying any EPs tho and simply purchase the Solace album with the remix CD attached. Solace has all the best tracks from the two albums but tells less of a story. Keep an eye out for the pearl bootleg."