Martina Topley Bird's CV of former collaborators is one of the more impressively varied in modern pop: since she was discovered by Tricky way back in the mid-Nineties, her vocals have appeared on records by David Holmes, Mark Lanegan, Primus, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Gorillaz, to name but a few.
It was while working with the last in 2004 that Bird became chums with the project's producer Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton, and over the intervening years the pair put together this follow-up to her Mercury-nominated debut Quixotic. But the industrious Burton's character rather swamps Topley Bird's: the diversity of his approaches, from the swooning, Chris Isaak-esque twang of "Valentine" to the Portishead-style haunted pop of "Something to Say" and the alluring, almost Martin Denny-like exotica of "Baby Blue", leaves her voice with little to do but pout in sultry manner, its deadpan blend of innocence and experience failing to resonate as it did on previous releases. "Funny how the noises I am making can't drown out the sound of my heart breaking," she sings, presumably unaware of the irony.
Pick of the album: 'Baby Blue', 'Phoenix', 'Something to Say'