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Andrea Maxand : Angel Hat

REVIEW: Andrea Maxand: Angel Hat
6.2.2002 by Esther

Andrea Maxand: Angel Hat [Montesano, 2001]

Three words? No feathers here.

Whenever I get a CD, its a bit like unwrapping a shiny new present. I want to tear it open greedily and discover the secret inside, but I always take a few moments to guess first. Angel Hat, the title of Maxand's debut solo album, seemed like it might be drenched in Lilith Fair-esque saccharine sweetness, a girl with a guitar and a honey voice singing pretty songs about love and angels. Not so. Produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie fame, its no surprise that this album manages to tap into pop aesthetic, while still providing bitingly quirky music.

Yes, Andrea Maxand sings sweetly, but it is a cold, tart sweetness, each word crisp and tangy over the dense growl of guitar. Like the trilling of a bird, there is something at once strong and frail about her voice. This, combined with Chris Walla's looping on a few of the tracks, gives an impression of ghostliness. Her songs shiver with the ethereal. The result is a strangely beautiful blend of guitar music and vocals.

Still, good as this album is, the title needs to go. I can just picture her scribbling random words on scraps of paper, then drawing two randomly out of a... hat. An angel hat. The picture of the red baseball cap with angel wings on the back cover just looks silly, as opposed to arty or deep.

But the music is great. More metallic than feathery, it makes me think of creaking park benches and the banshee like cry of a bird, brittle against morning air.

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