Imogen Heap: Ellipse Review

Ok, because I’m feeling lazy right now, look at my previous Imogen Heap review for the warnings (the copy protection one does not apply here).

Imogen’s third album, “Ellipse” is a cousin more than a sibling of its predecessor. For some, this is a good thing. For others, it’s bad. “Ellipse” is a little more down-to-earth than Speak For Yourself, and it feels heavier as a whole. It’s nothing too drastic, but it’s enough of a change to split people’s opinions on it. So where do I stand? Let’s get into it!

 

1. First Train Home – 7/10

This song doesn’t really interest me. The instrumental is wonderful, as always, but the song feels a little too monotonous. It’s not terrible by any means – in fact it can be rather catchy. It’s just kind of blah to listen to. The lyrics are wonderful (when they’re not repeating…) and they really give you a taste of this albums strong suit – its poetic lyrics that I daresay rival that of “Hide and Seek.”

Favorite Line: “Temporal deadzone where clocks are barely breathing./Yet no-one cares to notice for all the yelling, all night clamor to hold it together.” [If you think that’s good, this is just a song about a party. Some songs are even better and deeper.]

 

2. Wait It Out 8/10

This song is a very very distant relative of Hide and Seek. The lyrics sound similar “Where do we go from here – how do we carry on? vs. ‘Hide and Seek’s’ “Where are we? What the hell is going on?”, and this feels eerily like a spiritual successor; although it’s not likely it’s about the same subject it almost feels like a lot of the lyrics could be trying to paint the picture that “Hide and Seek” was the initial shock of {SPOILER ALERT} the divorce of Immi’s parents, and this song is the period where she tries to get on with her life. I think Imogen noticed this (or maybe this whole song was based on it to begin with) because she brought back the vocoder for the last 30 seconds of this song.

Ok, MegaSupernova’s ramble is now over, now on to quality of the song itself. It’s a very low-key song that presents itself very modestly with a hint of desperation, which is very cool to experience. The instruments feel just a tad off to me in some places, but a great majority of the song sounds just fine – and I have a feeling the off feeling is a purposeful design choice on Immi’s part. The lyrics are great as always, but not as powerful as some of the other songs on this album.

Favorite Line: “Everybody says that time heals everything/But what of the wretched hollow?”

 

3. Earth 6/10

I feel really bad for giving this song such a low score because you can definitely tell a TON of work went into this song. Imogen has gone on record saying that she recorded over 100 vocal tracks in this a cappella song. Now that’s dedication if I ever saw it! It’s tight and definitely a work of art and a labor of love, but the lyrics feel weak to me and the sound just isn’t for me. I still appreciate it for what it does, though.

Favorite Line: “This is not a fire drill and/If we hold any hope/It’s harmonic connection”

 

4. Little Bird 9.5/10

Ah, the “.5.” I don’t like to use it because I feel it overcomplicates, but alas, I’m going to use it at least a couple times in this review. This song is beautiful. It’s such a quiet and creepy, but sweet song. This song, from my viewpoint, is also about Immi’s parents’ divorce. The lyrics are just as, if not more, wonderfully poetic than those of “Hide and Seek.” The instrumentation is perfectly bare-bones, just enough to keep you grounded, but hollow and empty enough to pierce right through you. The chords are brilliant as well, with majors and minors being thrown around everywhere that reflect the toying with of emotions. It’s great.

Favorite Lines [This song is just too good for 1]: “Little bird, little bird, little bird/What do you see?/A picture perfect scene/Two toned lawns are manicured/The gardens wearing haute couture/It’s hiding something/It’s trying too hard/Hiding something/It’s trying too hard” ; “Little bird, little bird, little bird/What do you hear?/The clink of morning cheers/Orange juice concentrate/Crossword puzzles start to grate/One across, four letter word; it’s just not sitting” ; “I’ve got one more question [repeated a lot]/Little bird, little bird, little bird/Where have you gone?”

5. Swoon 9.5/10

This song is very bouncy and frankly, a bit sassy. It has a great spunk to it and sets the tone well. The song is head-bashingly catchy; mostly the verses and especially the bridge. I can’t tell you how strong the impulse is to belt out the bridge randomly when you’ve heard it; it’s a perfect earworm. The lyrics are well-crafted for the most part, but I feel the chorus lacks in this department. It’s not that the chorus lyrics aren’t creative, it’s just that they don’t flow well. The bridge is amazing for its bluntness, however.

Favorite Line: “Let me be the Great Scott, tip-top, pit stop in your ocean/I could be the shipmate what got you down and dirty with the lotion” [And yes, that was the blunt bridge XD]

 

6. Tidal 7.5/10

This song is so well-crafted, but so awkward at the same time. The strings are wonderful and the rest of the instruments are quality, but the melody goes everywhere. The lyrics are pretty good, as expected. There’s really not much to say.

Favorite Line: “Do it for England/Do it for love/Do it for us/Do it for goodness sake/Do it for all the times we wished we had”

 

7. Between Sheets 6.75/10 [I’m sorry, I’m torn about how to rate this song!]

This song feels very unnecessary to me. Maybe I’m just missing something, but I feel it’s rather boring and feels too much like filler. I’m pretty indifferent to it.

Favorite Line: “I couldn’t care less I’m transfixed in this absolute bliss”

 

8. 2 – 1 10/10

This song is incredible. The lyrics, first of all, are so mind-blowingly creative. She references polyfilla, which is also a reference to the term “God of the gaps.” She uses polyfilla as a metaphor for religion (well, at least how I see it anyway), as if it’s trying to cover up the holes of things we don’t understand quite yet, and that as time goes on we don’t need it. Polyfilla is a plaster, and its ratio of plaster to water is… you guessed it! 2:1. And of course, she sneaks in “The gods lost 2 – 1” to throw in another way to connect it all. It’s extremely clever. The instruments are absolutely wonderful, and they become so tight at the end that it’s noteworthy how precise and crisp the whole piece sounds. It’s almost too perfect!

Favorite Line: “At first the Earth was flat/But it fattened up when we didn’t fall off/Now we spin laps ’round the sun.”

 

9. Bad Body Double 8.5/10

OK, if “Swoon” is sassy, this song is the Queen of Sass. The lyrics are so damn cheeky that it’s just impossible not to smile at them. The song is all about body image, and how as Imogen grows older she has to deal with not looking like the image she wants to all the time. So her reflection is her “Bad Body Double.” And as if the lyrics weren’t sassy enough for you, that snare sound? That’s no drum – that is, as songfacts puts it, “Imogen’s bare buttocks.” Again, according to songfacts, she said she did it alone in the studio late at night, laughing at how crazy it was. The instruments and melody are fine, but the attitude this song has really makes it shine.

Favorite Line: ” *deep breath* Holding it in,/If it makes you feel better, then knock yourself out.”

 

10. Aha! 10/10

This song is so… darn… catchy!! It’s devilishly rhythmic and the melody is crafted so well. I also love the strings in the bridge. The regular instruments are cool too, and allegedly that cool riff that plays in the intro is actually a jack-in-the-box that’s gone through the magic of Immi’s editing skills. The lyrics are very clever, and so is the whole song; it’s supposedly about hypocrites. For example, the first verse is about Imogen’s friend who claimed she was going on a wheat-free diet (wheat, meat, dairy-free…) and then reached for a biscuit, (caught you red-handed in the biscuit tin). But the best part about the song’s meaning is that in one of Imogen’s vlogs, she stated that she wasn’t going to use piano in this song to let it breathe better. And the very last sound you hear in the song is Imogen banging on the piano. It’s a very clever way of sneaking in the message, almost as a post-script, “Yeah, we can make fun of people for being hypocritical but, come on, we all are!” This song is just very tight and fun to listen to. Too bad it’s so short!

Favorite Line: “Wheat, meat, dairy-free, teetotal, happy-clappy/High on life/You should try it”

 

11. The Fire ?/10

I’m not going to rate this because it doesn’t have lyrics, and that is a crucial part of my factoring of a song. I will say, however, that it’s a wonderful ambience piece!

 

12. Canvas 8/10

This song has a very different feel to it, and it sets a very good tone. It’s slow-moving, and almost tribal sounding. It’s very cool, but I don’t have much to say about it.

Favorite Line: “The more you lose the less you see,/So close your eyes and start to breathe,/Oh you said yourself, this wasn’t easy.”

 

13. Half Life 9.5/10

This is a really sweet song. It’s so cute it’s irresistible and it’s terribly sad, but it’s a strange sort of uplifting sad feeling it provokes. I can’t find the words to describe this song well, so you’ll just have to take a listen. It’s truly a great song and let me just say, it was one of the main reasons why I bought this album so quickly after I had bought “Speak For Yourself” (and at that point it hadn’t grown on me much yet). It’s a wonderful, wonderful song.

Favorite Lines {Yes, three again}: “The stickler is you’ve played not one beat wrong/You never promised me anything/Even sat me down, warned me just how they fall/And I knew the odds were I’d never win” ; “It’s a half life/With you as my quarterback/A daft life” ; “There may well be others but I still like to pretend/That I’m the one you really want to grow old with”

 

Overall Rating: 8.3/10 – “Ellipse” is a wonderful album that expands upon what “Speak For Yourself” started, and definitely for the better. Imogen’s sound is now tighter than ever and will hopefully stay that way. I definitely recommend you get this album, but please check the warnings on my “Speak For Yourself” review first! (Once again, the copy protection one does not apply!)

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