Eleni Mandell, 'Artificial Fire' (Zedtone)

7
Artificial Fire
Critical Mass
Label: Zedtone

by Shannon Zimmerman

Eleni Mandell's musical coordinates obviously include sultry sirens Chrissie Hynde and PJ Harvey, but she also possesses an uncanny knack for sweetly sinister, heartsick vignettes. "God Is Love" is both brooding prayer and lament, fueled by guitarist Jeremy Drake's staccato, scale-running riffs. Dreamy, upper-register chord changes power "In the Doorway," imbuing a blushing line like "I was dizzy, I was guilty, I wanted to confess" with manic lust and morning-after regret. The album's rockers are a serviceable change of pace -- especially "Little Foot," which channels early, Farfisa-laced Elvis Costello -- but it's Mandell's torch songs that ignite.

Listen: Eleni Mandell, "Artificial Fire"

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