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Adaline

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Talk about starting with a bang. Adaline achieves near Judy Garland levels of melodrama on “That’s What You Do Best”, the stately electro-torch song that opens her new album, Modern Romantics. But she doesn’t get there without boxing your ears with wiggy sax (from Shuffle Demon Richard Underhill) and unhinged guitar solos (by Hawksley Workman) on the way, the latter sounding like it was recorded in a reinforced missile silo. There’s a lot of tastefully rendered sonic action on the way to that quivering, love-burnt climax.

It’s what Adaline does best; elegant structures that happen to be wildly hooky. “It’s a pop record,” she says of her sophomore effort, “but certainly not straight down the middle. I have pop sensibilities, but I hope I come across as a little deeper than a pop tart.” Deeper by orders of magnitude, based on the sheer stylistic scope of Modern Romantics, and the quixotic path it takes through sexy, minatory trip hop (“Keep Me High”), smartly built robo-pop (“The Noise”, “Sparks”, “Stereo”), and even the sad-erotic cabaret of “Cost Is Too High (Not To Love)”. That last number is what you might have gotten if David Lynch and Julee Cruise had composed a song for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.

Adaline and her collaborators Hawksley Workman, Marten Tromm, and Tino Zolfo have made that kind of record. Modern Romantics is invested with the depth and imagination you only ever get from high-end, ultra-talented music nerds

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