Issue February 10, 2009

To Be Still

Alela Diane
Rough Trade

It’s not that it sounds bad; Alela Diane has that Bon-Iver-only-a-girl/Joanna-Newsom-if-she-could-really-sing quality that is certainly appealing. It’s not that it’s poorly produced; London’s Rough Trade Records, which gave us The Raincoats, Pulp, Belle & Sebastian and James Blood Ulmer, doesn’t mess around. It isn’t even that it’s boring — To Be Still has the requisite mournful violins, quiet guitars and echoing vocals that come with the New Weird America territory. In a word, it’s that it feels, for each and every moment, fake. Alela Diane seems to be the psych-folk version of the preppy kid who goes to college, gets a Mohawk and swears up and down that she’s always been a punk.