One Bird, Several Stones
After releasing three albums with the New Jersey based band Spent and a debut solo album in 2001, Annie Hayden has returned with a sophomore attempt under a new label. The Enemy of Love is a collection of thirteen tracks delicate by nature, but nevertheless surprisingly humdrum and deficient. Hayden’s sound is tough to nail. While closely identifiable with Liz Phair, the vocals are soft and sweet with an occasional jazz edge backed by a primarily uppity rhythm section, leaving the fat kid on one end of the seesaw. “Hip Horray” contains primarily jazz vocals backed by a subtle airport-esque band. “Starring in the Movies” is a beautiful piece; however the overt lightheartedness is much better suited for an Off-Broadway musical than an indie rock album.
The lyrics lean on the side of hokey and, well, feminine. “Your Carnival” leads off with “I wonder how to look like an ice cream cone/ a pretty little berry on top of the world.” Sprinkled into the song are lyrics of the more infamous Crosby Stills Nash and Young from “Our House:” “place your flowers in the vase you bought today” and “I’ll light the fire.” Being supportive of borrowing and referencing is difficult when the remainder is below par. However, the end product could be compared to a female version of Ben Folds – Ben Folds on a bad day.
The pluses lie in the short little diddy “Boos,” a more minimalistic attempt that includes multiple levels held to the standard set by Hayden’s vocals, and the more mysterious “Willie’s Fortune.” Indeed suited to keep coffee house goers guessing, The Enemy of Love may bore its buyers.