Sarah McLachlan
Afterglow
2004
F



to make a relationship work in the long term, a great deal of compromise is needed, in many areas of life. Music is one such area. Many people may feel the need to persuade their partner to appreciate the greatness of certain artists or musical styles. However, this can lead to tension and frustration. It is often more sensible to devote any shared listening time to enjoying music that sits in the comfortable middle-ground between your respective tastes.

Me and my long-term girlfriend are both keen music lovers, but do not overlap much in our tastes. Thankfully, there are a handful of artists that can be called upon to neutralize any arguments about what goes on the stereo: Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Sugababes and the Pixies, to name a few. These appeal to us both in roughly equal measures, and are well represented in both our households.

Still, seeing as we both spend a good deal of time listening to music, the list of "shared musical likes/loves" could certainly do with expansion. Sarah McLachlan is one artist particularly beloved of my other half, so it would be very practical for both of us if I were to love this record.

Unfortunately, I found Afterglow a thoroughly unconvincing listen. While melody may not be a problem for McLachlan, it is consistently suffocated in this stiflingly dull setting. The album settles into a sombre mid-tempo slumber on opener "Fallen" and remains determinedly one-paced all the way through to closing track "Dirty Little Secret".

The arrangements and production are key factors in Aferglow’s failure to impact. The entire set is performed with all the joyless efficiency of a pony-tailed session muso. Studio polish can be an excellent thing, but here it feels like it's been heaped on with a rusty shovel. If these songs have a certain melancholic charm, it has been obscured beneath an impenetrably bland sheen.

Sarah McLachlan definitely deserves props for her part in Delerium’s wondrously beautiful “Silence”. That track’s dreamy atmospherics may be present on Afterglow, but the sense of momentum and thrill has definitely been lost. Besides, that was seven years ago, and any goodwill gained from it is being squandered with albums as mediocre as this. It looks like my girlfriend and I will have to find other artists to compromise on.
Reviewed by: Kilian Murphy
Reviewed on: 2004-03-02
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