Albums: POE

Haunted, FEI/Atlantic
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The Independent Culture

For much of the 1990s, the dominant role for female rockers – especially Americans – was one in which the open wounds of one's emotional life were viewed as ideal material for songs, particularly if (as with Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos) there were a few childhood traumas hanging around, still awaiting "closure". Poe Danielewski is the latest of this dreary line, and Haunted her self-proclaimed "journey towards intimacy", prompted by stumbling across a cache of tape recordings of her late father, fragments of which appear interspersed among its tracks. The Danielewskis clearly believe their lives to be of universal import – the sleeve notes include detailed cross-references to passages in Poe's brother Mark's semi-autobiographical novel House of Leaves. The album opens with Poe singing into her mom's answer-phone to inform her of dad's death, before going on to express how his memory still haunts her every waking moment. She resembles Morissette in so many ways: embarrassingly over-generous with details of her private life in tracks such as "Not a Virgin"; apparently unable to break the link between assertiveness and blame; and fatally bound to a cramped, claustrophobic mode of over-egged AOR rock whose orderly manner merely belies her claims of wildness. It's psychotherapy by sequencer, as rigid and controlling as any 12-step programme, but lacking the essential nobility of troubles borne in solitude.