Artificial Fire

by Jacquelyn Lewis

There are some great tracks on Eleni Mandell’s latest, but with a whopping 15 songs on this CD, you might find yourself hitting the “next” button to find ’em.

When L.A.-based singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell decided to make the album of her teenage dreams, she recorded Artificial Fire. The sedated, rockabilly guitar matched by her Exene Cervenka–meets–Melody Gardot vocal style shines most on ’60s-pop-influenced “Right Side” and “Personal.” “I Love Planet Earth” showcases a spectacular use of auditory space fog, which gives the song a haunting—if not morbid—air, as she croons, “I saw myself die/Under an oncoming semi/Wanting to say ‘I love planet earth.’” Standout track “Cracked,” with its girly pop-punk sound, could have been Lorelai’s theme song in the pre-CW–Gilmore Girls era. Nevertheless, Mandell’s vocals are so smooth that some of the songs get lost in the shuffle. While 15 tracks is some great bang for your buck, you may find yourself hitting the “next” button in search of Artificial Fire’s more blazing tracks.

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