"I needed to just change everything, I needed this to be a clean slate," says Alison Sudol, the L.A. based songstress also known as A Fine Frenzy. For Sudol, "everything" meant her approach to songwriting, the scope of her musical vision and -- an important element to her fanbase -- the color of her hair. Still, we'd be hardpressed to imagine a more dramatic turn than the one embraced on her third album Pines (October 16, CD; Virgin). The sleek and supple melodic piano pop of Sudol's earlier works has been supplanted by expansive (many tracking at six or seven minutes) and often somber mood pieces that sound like they were created as a brooding and cerebral art film soundtrack. And in a way, they were, though Pines companion piece is not cinema but, rather, a book addressing subjects like the natural world -- forests, oceans -- and regeneration. The songs, carrying that heavy weight of importance, move slowly and carefully, revealing themselves in long takes -- like movies of old -- rather than the chop shop edits and hyperaccelerated push of modern film (and pop music, too). Pines is an old-fashioned "headphone album", one approached without distraction and demanding a singular focus. Sudol has embarked on a risky adventure here, comparable, ironically, to Terence Malick's obtuse cinematic conundrum The Tree of Life, and one that may try the patience and attention span of many of her fans. But, however commercially successful, it also presents the promise of a deeper, more thoughtful and challenging artist at work. Watch the brief EPK for Pines below.
A Fine Frenzy - "The Sighting" (from Pines)
A Fine Frenzy - "Riversong" (from Pines)