Second Verse, Same as the First
However, when I began listening, my hopes began to slip away like sand in an hourglass. "First Train Home" is beautiful, for sure, but sounds like a missing track off of Speak For Yourself rather than a proper lead single, identifying this as a new endeavor for her, musically. The inertia is palpable as normal, the lyrics rambling and lacking typical pop structure which is another idiosyncrasy of Imogen that we've all grown to love and accept, but is it anything new? No, it isn't.
Don't stop there. Go on.
The Aesthetics of an Artist
It is interesting to note the aesthetics of the album Ellipse and Imogen Heap's previous albums. Take I Megaphone for starters, Imogen's dark, restrained, and lost debut album. The images in the album reflected that feeling, where the light was muted and the feeling was more dark than not. Move on to Speak For Yourself, a white-colored album with no enclosures, really nothing solid besides the singer, and lots of colorful doodles and bursts, and you'll find the music itself has also opened up. The music on I Megaphone could be labeled as "unrestrained," specifically with "Rake It In" breaking out into dissonant and chaotically-pounded instruments, Imogen screaming over top before shuddering back into the structure of the song; to me, that seems like an uncontrollable outburst, the temper tantrum of a child who cannot stand the limitations placed on them any longer, but accepting conformity in the end.
The Imagery of Restraint
There's Beauty in the Breakdown
Whether this symbolism is intentional, I find it no surprise that the musical content on Ellipse also channels both albums in Imogen's past. A dark, overboding feeling accompanies her on the fast-paced "Aha!," electronica simmering along as chaos batters itself along the edge of the music. Conversely "Between the Sheets," a track that implies restriction in its very name, is light and breezy and happy, making me want to enjoy the freedoms I have. "Between the Sheets" also reminds me of the calm and beautiful romantically longing track from I Megaphone, "Come Here Boy." Flying on a similar wind is "Wait It Out," a track that not only flits along butterfly-like but uses the same vocal processor that was used in "Hide & Seek." Starting in the shower and later sounding like it is sung in one, "Bad Body Double" plinks and grooves along in a perfectly carefree way, content on being one of the tracks that really shows musical evolution compared to "First Train Home," especially with the stomp-stomp-clap beat that is quietly thrown in. "I've got bad body double trouble" is the cutest way of blaming all your wrongdoings on an evil twin. "Swoon" and "Earth" also embody this evolution, the latter which sounds to be sung completely a cappella in the same style of Bjork's divisive album Medulla.