Pines, the third full length by one woman group A Fine Frenzy, is a somewhat uneven but incredibly adventurous album of composed music. These are songs in a more traditional understanding of the term, containing varied sections and textural shifts. It’s essentially a concept album, centered around a young girl.
Alison Subol, the persona behind the music, has one of the most gorgeous voices I’ve heard in a long time. Her vocal tone is incredibly sensual, and capable of multiple levels of expressiveness. She sings with expressive beauty.
What makes the proceedings uneven is the basic thing- some of the tracks are really engaging, and some are not. Things start off with tons of promise, and this is partially fulfilled by the first half. In fact, the first three and a half minutes of the first song can stand in in an abstract way for what works. A mysterious introduction, and then a sprawling (in indie pop terms) development. Over a central harmonic sequence, a lot of atmosphere unfolds.
After many, many moments of musical beauty, the second half comes off a little contrived. It is felt that in terms of sheer length, ambition has outstripped ability. This is essentially a backhanded compliment; Alison Subol is definitely very talented, and I believe that in time she will mature into an incredible songwriter. But the second half of the album just runs out of steam. But, at 67 minutes long, this is understandable. I’d certainly be hard pressed to be as inventive during the first 34.