Breanne Duren - Sparks
2011, DurenDuren Records
Breanne Duren knows the grind of touring the world, having been on the road with Owl City's Adam Young. Duren sang on Own City's 2009 album Ocean Eyes, and will also appear on the upcoming release All Things Bright And Beautiful. While on the road, Duren began writing her own melodies, and upon returning from a tour of Japan, went into the studio with producer Mike Daly (Whiskeytown, Rachael Yamagata, Grace Potter And The Nocturnals). The resulting five-song EP, Sparks, is out today
Sparks opens with "Goldmine", which takes a 1960's girl group vibe and blends with a heavy electro-pop backbone. The song is all about figuring out your direction in the world, and is delivered in a wonderfully infectious arrangement that will translate well to pop radio as well as to the dance circuit (with a bit of re-mixing). "No One Else" is pure synth-pop, complete with seemingly computerized vocals. Duren's voice has a cute, little-girl quality to it at times, but the obvious computer enhancement here serves as more of a distraction than anything else. The song itself is formulaic and bland pop. "Catapult" finds Duren opening up the vocal throttle a bit, sounding something like Ashley Simpson in the process. Duren explores the explosive growth of youth, where instinct and lack of perspective make most anything possible. "Daydream" is an awkward bit of teen poetry set to a minimalist electro-pop arrangement. Duren closes with "Summer Days", a retrospective pop ballad that yearns for the simple pleasures of young love. Duren makes the most of her voice on this number, but the arrangement is a cynical marriage of pop sensibility and electronics without any real sense of progression outside of the atmospherics of bland new age music.
Breanne Duren mines the pop music archives of artists such as Debbie Gibson and Tiffany for "Sparks", not replicating the bubble gum sound per se, but offering a modern equivalent. Duren has been lauded for her work with Owl City, and may be the real deal, but Sparks is so over-produced you're left to wonder what is really Duren and what is animation. Sparks could have been much more.
Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Breanne Duren at www.breannedurenmusic.com. You can pre-order Sparks through Duren's website.