'SOMETIMES A CIRCLE
,' LOUISE GOFFIN (DREAMWORKS)
Hell, yes, it's a pop record. Were you expecting anything less from Carole King's daughter? Sometimes a Circle
is kind of like King's Tapestry
as rerecorded by trip-hop pioneers Portishead. And, at times, Goffin's phrasing is similar to Aimee Mann's but without the twitchy borderline-personality-disorder angst. There's even an echo of Laura Nyro or two along with the Brill Building pop-tune catchiness that her mother and father -- tunesmith Gerry Goffin -- were known for in the early '60s.
Every tune here sounds like a "relationship song" with heavy dashes of blinkered self-involvement and psychobabble aplenty. But this is a pop record and what counts are the hooks, the beats, the melodies, and the smooth vocals, and this record sounds great in the same way that a Chris Isaak record does. It doesn't matter that the person singing is about as deep as a mirror and as smart as a rabbit. This is narcissist rock that doesn't offend.
The real star here is producer Greg Wells, who also happens to be Goffin's husband. He constructs sparse chamber-pop settings around his wife's sometimes sappy lyrics in such a way that you find yourself singing along to the most inane choruses and enjoying it. Now that's the essence of a pop record, it would seem. Sometimes surface sheen is enough.
-- GRADE: B+