Girl On Fire
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 01:12
Alicia Keys’ new album, Girl On Fire, is more about atmosphere than anything else. It’s a mood album, bringing you on a journey of feeling rather than a straight narrative or a showcase of memorable tunes.
The instrumentation is repetitive and predictable with sparse orchestration. A rhythm section, piano, electronic tones, and bass make up the majority of Girl On Fire. In fact, the patterns are so calculated that it sounds like a computer did most of the composing.
But the simplicity makes for an excellent backdrop to highlight Keys’ notoriously expressive vocals. They aren’t perfect by any means—but it’s that signature strain that makes them feel natural and emotive.
That being said, the songs don’t give a whole lot to hold on to. The opening to Girl On Fire is most certainly the strongest, with a piano solo, “De Novo Adagio,” evocative and well composed. Following the tender opening is a seamless transition to the ballad “Brand New Me.” It features poetic lyric, ethereal piano accompaniment, and the most impacting melody.
But Girl On Fire seems to lose its way after that. The heavy beats keep the ears happy and flowery vocals make the listening pleasant, but the songs make it easy for the mind to wander. The lack of musical substance makes the album ideal for background noise—functional for something like studying—but it also means that Girl On Fire isn’t good of its own merit.
Listeners won’t listen to it for the music, but to have a lack of silence. It isn’t complex enough to distract you, but not overtly simple enough, either. It’s atmospheric.