The opening to Marykate O’Neil’s “1-800-BANKRUPT” album is pretty middle of the road, which the style of music that ey plays not too much different from Jill Sobule, who produced this album. The track could make it onto alternative radio, but there is little more that will endear listeners beyond that small scope. “Stay” is much of the same type of music, although O’Neil has more of a Suzanne Vega approach to things on this track. For those that are not familiar with the names that have been dropped, what O’Neil does during the tracks on this album is essentially create a brand of guitar-led indie-rock that has vocals laying on top of it.
The ancillary instruments (drums and bass at points) have little to no effect on the overall sound of the track. O’Neil finally breaks out of the ennui created by the first few tracks during “Susan Fingerle”. During this track, the harmonies created by O’Neil’s vocals are much more dynamic than they have been; listeners can actually float on eir vocals like a river. O’Neil attempts to ruff things up with “Things Are Too Good”, but the increased distortion on the track does not make the album have a distinctly different sound than it had at the end of “Susan Fingerly”. There is another attempt to shift the style of the disc with the seventies-influenced “Past All The Stars”.
The track still floats around the same point that O’Neil started the disc out with, and does not give individuals anything qualitatively different to chew on. The production of “1-800-BANKRUPT” is solid, with some of the most groomed tracks I’ve ever heard coming from this disc, but there is little present in these songs that will keep individuals listening in. O’Neil can make an album that is perfectly average, but suffers when it comes to creating something that individuals will remember for a long period of time. “Secret War” is the first track that is present on the album that individuals can honestly get behind; the interplay of the vocals and piano during this track will make listeners’ ears perk up and attentions focused into “1-800-BANKRUPT”. O’Neil should look into breaking free of the framework that stifles eir creativity on this album; take a few new instruments into consideration or find some new song-writers to join up, and chances are that this next album will be leagues ahead of what is present here.
Top Tracks: Secret War, I Sleep With My Clothes On
Marykate O’Neil – 1-800-BANKRUPT / 2006 Self / 12 Tracks / http://www.marykateoneil.com / Reviewed 08 June 2006