3 Out Of 5 Stars
I picked up on A Fine Frenzy after seeing her open a Rufus Wainwright concert a few years back. "Bomb In a Birdcage" is their (or her, since the band is basically a backdrop for Alison Sudol's piano musings) second album, and a bit of a shock after seeing her perform warm, meandering piano pop onstage. "Bomb In A Birdcage" is a band album, with electronic drumming, gleeful Regina Spektor pop, and a few of those moments that won me over in concert.
Sudol likes to mix her happiest music to her saddest moments, which make a song like "Happier" such an exquisite break-up song. She also keeps some of her folksier elements in place for "What I Wouldn't Do" and "Bird of Summer." Some of these songs not just reflect Spektor, but also make one wonder if there were a bunch of Tori Amos CD's on her bedstand. Sudol has that knack for fairy tale poetry in her music, as found in the tale of the lonely lighthouse keeper residing in "The Beacon," which also happens to be "Bomb In A Birdcage's" most beautiful songs. What's lacking here are memorable songs, even at most of them being in the pop range of three and a half minutes, little sticks. The only song with a real kick to it is "Electric Twist," which has a slippery bass line and a vocal that sounds less affected than most of the bulk of "Bomb In A Birdcage."
If you count the couple of songs I've mentioned and the fact that, when she's not trying too hard, Sudol has an expressive voice, "Bomb In a Birdcage" is an OK album. But I can't get past the fact that the sweetness of the voice I heard in concert is trying to rock ("We Stood Up") or just sounds like she's over-singing the material. What I saw and heard A Fine Frenzy do on stage suggests better is possible.