I first heard of the indie group “Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head”, about a year ago when they were nothing more than high school seniors who happened to make charming songs about odd topics such as a lust for beards and the story of a peeping Tom which then turns into a love story.
The great thing about them was, was that everything was so lo-fi.
The singing was bad at times, and the instruments weren’t exactly up to industry par, which made it sound very home made, compared to the processed music that is pumped out of the big music industry labels.
Sadly, the NPSH that I once knew is long gone and the new one is shiny and processed.
Compared to their first official release, “Secret Crush EP,” “Glistening Pleasure” is an album that is overflowing with overproduction.
The use of autotune in this album is almost criminal; there is no mistake throughout the entire album, which I find quite disturbing, especially since the band was known for having fun and at times messing up during live shows and during recordings.
But as a fan of the band, I feel so torn, I feel as though the songs I once knew and loved were all so distant and faraway. I know the songs by heart, since most of them are not new with the exception of three, but I just hate them, the production absolutely kills it for me.
Speaking of three new songs, which are “Confections,” “Hush Hush,” and “The Malibu Highlife,” they are nothing but boring beyond all belief. “Hush Hush,” is basically a pop-rock song that could be mistaken for a number of bands people listen to, and the other two are just generally bland and boring.
The overproduction takes the listeners away from knowing who the band actually is, four recent high school graduates who make synth pop in their bedrooms.
For example, one of the highlights of the album, “Bedroom Costume,” is so far different compared to the original. Long gone are the missed high notes and the whine of the tape deck.
The updated version sounds like something that would be played on a hit radio station.
I also have a large problem with the lyrics on some of the new songs.
Previously, the lyrics were purposefully corny, and it went well with the style, but with this album, it all seems like this band was a reincarnated version of some kind of group made up of child actors who made music for Radio Disney and are suddenly “grown up and making their comeback this summer with some hot new tracks about bad dates and how school sucks.”
When I played this album to a friend who was familiar with the older versions of the tracks, he made a great analogy, the band used to be a pretty girl who use make up to accentuate her features, but once she finds out she’s hot, she just dumps that makeup on like it’s going out of style, thinking that it’s going to make her look prettier, but really she ends up looking like a mess.
And he’s right, these guys were great before they added all the mastering, autotune, and perfection, they were perfect when they were making mistakes and just doing what they loved. As a long time fan of this band, I cannot stand by this album as it does not show what I knew and loved in them. Newcomers on the other hand just might find this the perfect find.
In the end, this album is great for anyone who listens to the radio for new music, for people who try and find more obscure music with stranger genres, this album is most likely not for you.