Martina Topley Bird's third solo album came about after Damon Albarn encouraged her to record simplified new versions of songs from her first two records, Quixotic, and the Danger Mouse-produced The Blue God. While the originals were hardly drowning in excessive production, Topley Bird has pared them back further still, removing nearly all the flesh from their bones and leaving just the melody lines, her airy voice and jolts of electric piano, drum machine and tambourine. Many of the reinventions are wholly stunning. On Baby Blue, Topley Bird hardly seems to breathe, and the song drifts by as weightlessly as a song underpinned by ukulele can; Sandpaper Kisses arrestingly melds trip-hop and an outburst of dark grunge guitar, and on Ilyah her vocals are looped and repeated endlessly, creating a dizzying, disjointed sensation. There are also four new songs, but this beautiful album doesn't need them to justify its existence.
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian