Blue Wonder Powder Milk


Epic Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Is there ever a time that too much of something pleasant can be bad?

I don't refer to OD'ing on such culinary wonders as Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream or Old Style; I refer to the music of Belgium's Hooverphonic. Their third album, Blue Wonder Powder Milk, has some powerful moments on it, but in the end becomes too repetitive for its own good.

With the lead vocals shared by Geike Arnaert and Alex Callier, Hooverphonic inject an almost chant-like atmosphere to their riff-based songs. (Rounding out the band are keyboardist Frank Duchene and guitarist Raymond Geerts.) The opening track "Battersea" provides an early glimpse into a different world of pop music, one that quickly reminded me of Iceland's Gus Gus. The songs aren't afraid to mix frantic drum fills with melodic string arrangements - what is surprising is that such a combination works so well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For the first portion of the album, tracks like "Club Montepulciano" (the album's first single), "Eden" and "Dictionary" continue to thrill the listener and cause them to marvel at the band's work. However, this proves to be the band's curse as well; as Blue Wonder Powder Milk settles in with several more songs in exactly the same vein, the pattern begins to get old quickly. Songs like "Electro Shock Faders" and "Lung," which otherwise would have likely stood out on the album, become a blur all too quickly.

To Hooverphonic's credit, they do inject new life into the album on "This Strange Effect," though I can't figure out for the life of me why this song struck me as noteworthy more than several others on the album. Nevertheless, by the time "Magenta" and the album's uncredited thirteenth track kick in, the musical blur starts up again.

Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not that the songs on Blue Wonder Powder Milk are bad; in fact, it was refreshing to hear an album that concentrated on melody more than volume, something I don't often hear these days. It's just that by sticking with one particular style of songwriting and performing, Hooverphonic, in effect, become their own worst enemy. Had there been a little more variety in the songwriting, this album could have been that much better.

Blue Wonder Powder Milk is still very much worth your attention and money, for it is an album that plows some new ground. And had they not kept working on the same parcel of land throughout the album, it could have raised up to the next level. Still, there's a lot of promise in this group.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.