Caroline Lufkin’s name may not sound Japanese, but her record Murmurs sure does. Not in any bubblegum J-pop kind of way, but rather in some otherworldly lilt to her voice that lends it the sound of some child-fairy or Miyazaki character. I could picture her tunes running in the background at some posh lounge or trendy sushi bar.
As the main attraction, though, it lacks a little substance. It’s slow and melodic, clearly influenced by Björk, with her elfin voice layered over electronic beats and tunes, and even a little Portishead trickles in. But there’s none of the range and utter insanity of the former and a lot less of the sensual feeling of the latter.
The opening track, “Bicycle,” is so sugary and childlike that I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the record without a candy-stomachache, like the one you get after eating too many Cadbury Mini Eggs (which would fit the color scheme of the cover quite well). Midway through the album, though, a stronger, deeper, more sensual voice takes over—I’d almost swear it was a different singer. The change, though, makes the childlike vocals sound forced.
I can see this album taking off among fans of Devendra Banhart-style sweet folk-pop or Björk’s icier work. It’s pretty and sweet, and might make a good make-out soundtrack for a cold winter night. But it’s definitely not going to be for everyone.