Sometimes, i don't understand the British. I mean, if you believed the UK press (as i did to some degree in picking up this album), Colleen has crafted one of the finest ambient discs ever. Gentle readers, i encourage you to always, always remember the words of the Great Prophet Flava Flav. That's right: "Don't believe the hype".
In fact, I do not find this to be one of the most stunning ambient releases i have ever heard. Instead, this is, well, generic. It is a completely normal ambient disc in the turntablist school of current electronica. That is to say, Colleen's music is similar to that of Neotropic, or the mellower moments of DJ Shadow or Four Tet. Oh, it's not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, it's just not noteworthy. And considering all the praise i had heard heaped upon Everyone Alive Wants Answers, i have to admit to being fundamentally disappointed by that.
I suppose that much of my disappointment is my fault for being swept up in the general hysteria. What i need to do is stop reading UK music websites. People across the pond get themselves into an excited tizzy over the strangest things.... Bunch of freaks, if you ask me!
So, objectively looking at Everyone Alive Wants Answers, Colleen has crafted a typical, mellow, easy listening electronica album out of layers and layers of samples. Fans of Neotropic will find this to be right up their alley. In fact, this album reminds me a whole lot of La Prochaine Fois, the last Neotropic disc.
Colleen does have a few songs that are standouts in this genre. Your Heart on Your Sleeve is a happy little tune with a simply charming beat loop. One Night and It's Gone features an acoustic guitar riff looped to good effect. Swimming Pool Down the Railway Track is a richly layered song with lots of interesting things going on. All of those are good tracks. But my favorite on the disc is the album's closer, Nice and Simple. This features two contrasting loops, a high-pitched sound that might be the high end of a piano, and a low bass rumble that sounds like a hefty woodwind. These two loops dance and play about each other in a fascinating way. Wonderful stuff.
However, that covers less than 1/3 of the songs here. The rest of them fail to impress me in a "by the numbers for this sort of sample manipulation" sort of way. None of the songs are offensively bad, it's just that they seem so generic.
I cannot really recommend this disc. There are many more interesting ambient releases out there these days. I suppose that if Neotropic is your favorite artist ever, Everyone Alive Wants Answers can tide you over until she releases her next disc. Otherwise, well, don't believe the hype, kiddies.