Read My Lips
Sophie Ellis Bextor
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Reviewed by Andrew Arora
Sophie Ellis Bextor first erupted onto
the UK pop scene in the fall of 2000 by handling the vocals
for Spiller's "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)." The
publicity created by "GrooveJet" was enough to have British
fans drooling over the singer that critics declared "the
next female pop star" and inauspiciously over-hyping her
first album. Ellis Bextor's debut album, Read My
Lips is not breathtaking, but it's passable for a
first effort. There are enough moments between the album's
indubitable fillers to show that Ellis Bextor can be a pop
diva. The album takes sassy vocals and blends them into a
medley of songs that will have you probing old Blondie
albums for the same tunes. Read My Lips is
sophisticated dance-pop that meshes synthesized rhythms and
80s soul, but it's the album's funky disco that allows Ellis
Bextor to outclass her pop counterparts.
A respectable effort, but a song that just falls short from being well reputed is "Everything Falls Into Place." While neglecting Ellis Bextor's natural tone, this song is overproduced and tries too hard to subtly coalesce the plethora of beats. Because it is well written and has a likable chorus, "Everything Falls Into Place," could be one of the best songs on another artist's album. The sound and vocal requirements for this electro pop rhyme would be more akin to, say, Banarama, but are much less suitable for Ellis Bextor's deeper alto voice.
Read My Lips is worth a second run just to hear the splendid electric guitar and superb vocals of "Murder On The Dance Floor." Easily one of the best tracks, this catchy hymn, featuring Guy Pratt on guitar, is a charming piece that hooks you in, and halfway through you'll be reaching for the repeat button before it ends. "Murder" is so spellbinding, it will have you murmuring: "DJ, gonna burn this goddamn house right down," next time you're strolling into a masquerade ball.
If you are a sucker for well-produced soft tunes, "Is It
Any Wonder," is astounding. Luxuriate in the lucidity of
Ellis Bextor's quaint voice by turning this one up when
cruising along the coastline in your convertible. (And if
you have neither convertible nor coastline, it can help you
pretend.) The mellow beat and soft melody makes this
poignant ballad a delight to listen to. This song, about the
joy of finding a soul mate, is rumored to have Moby involved
in its production. In fact, Ellis Bextor has been working
with Moby on five other songs that were left off this album
due to time constraints.