“Encounter”, the title track from The Green Children’s debut full-length album, begins with buzzing nature sounds, the laughter of a small child, and a cheesy, whispered promise from frontwoman Milla Sunde: “I will always be with you”.
Not a promising start. That same track eventually blooms into a micro-world of synth pads, cheap beats, and Sunde’s foreign-yet-familiar voice, which soars in a graceful halo over the dance/pop soundscapes. It’s…fine, but nothing you haven’t heard elsewhere in a more engaging, original fashion–it’s so lightweight, if you listen to it with your car windows open, it might fly right out. But judging an album solely by its opening track is a music listening sin, and just when you think you’re ready to write off The Green Children as dance-y elevator music, you’ll get a whiff of “Dragons”, Encounter’s most impressive moment, a track which could honestly stand as one of the year’s most affable dance songs, even if everything about it (the vocal delivery, the melody, the production, the minimal, syrupy instrumentation) is so anonymous, it could have easily been ghost-written or ghost-recorded by just about any group in their respective genre.
But originality’s not the name of the game with The Green Children. The duo (Sunde, along with instrumentalist Marlow Bevan) originally met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney), bonding on mutual loves for trip-hop and alt-rock. However, while their iPods might be filled with eclectic discographies, these influences don’t shine through on their debut, instead leaving the listener with one gooey pop dancescape after another. Which isn’t a bad thing if you listen to, maybe, a song at a time (the aforementioned “Dragons” and “Black Magic” (with its nimble electric guitar progression and engaging melody) are quite catchy and layered with headphone-worthy nuance); however, as a front-to-back listening experience, Encounter drags, with each four-chord synth pattern and lightly soulful vocal feeling more and more samey as each track fades into the next.
There’s a lot to recommend here–at times, Sunde’s vocals are frightfully expressive and surprisingly soulful, equal parts Regina Spektor and Lady Gaga. The music is never anything less than tasteful, and, let’s face it–that’s saying something in today’s radio age. For the time being, The Green Children seems to be an apt name: there are growing pains aplenty, but there’s a lot of vitality, too.
By: Ryan Reed – email@example.com[Rating: 2.5/5]