Imogen Heap’s sophomore album delights

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The name Imogen Heap may not ring a bell, but if you’ve seen the movie Garden State or the TV shows The O.C. and HBO’s Six Feet Under, you’ve heard her music.

Heap first achieved stardom with her side band Frou Frou, in which she teamed up with Madonna’s and Bjork’s producer Guy Sigsworth to create Details, 11 tracks of chill out beats and vocals.

Frou Frou’s “Let Go” has been all over the radio and helped earn the Garden State soundtrack a Grammy nod. It’s true-Imogen Heap has been right under your nose, and you can bet the smell of her new album Speak for Yourself is sweet.

Heap doesn’t sway in the least from the music she used to capture audiences with Frou Frou. In fact, Heap could have put the name Frou Frou on Speak for Yourself instead of her own, and no one would have known the difference. But, Heap proves and knows, for that matter, that the similarity is no flaw and, after all, it means more of the great music she has created (Frou Frou will soon be in the studio).

What Heap does improve upon is her musical range: Sounds of all sorts are incorporated within these 12 tracks. The opening track “Headlock,” smooth sounding and richly captivating, is one of Heap’s best songs to date-reminiscent of “Let Go,” but more upbeat and complex. It sounds like a Christmas song at the start, only to introduce deep violins and cellos. By the time the second chorus comes around-hair-raising electronic drums and violins hit you over the head. Heap then lets you down easy with a quiet bridge, but lifts you back up again with the final chorus.

Take a breath at this point; it only gets better. Of course, no one would blame you if you listened to “Headlock” again.

“Goodnight and Go” is one of those songs that will bring a smile to your face before you even get to the good stuff. It begins with a catchy guitar line and a wave of electronic sounds and, not surprisingly, Heap’s voice feels like fresh air when it chimes in. It is obvious Heap has one of the best voices of her genre-or of any genre, for that matter.

“Hide and Seek” should be reason enough to buy the album. It is haunting but beautiful. “Hide and Seek” speaks about how the loss of a loved one never feels real. The opening line “Where are we? What the hell is going on?” captures this sentiment perfectly.

“Hide and Seek” features very little instrumental intrusion, Heap sings in short sentences with pauses in between, only furthering the effect of her voice. With “Hide and Seek,” she has completely separated herself from her work with Frou Frou and has become an entirely different artist.

Face it, folks, Imogen is here to stay.

Heap rounds off the album with some great tracks-most notably “Clear the Area,” “Just for Now” and “The Walk.” She even adds some heavy guitar in the song “Daylight Robbery.” It may not be the best track on the album-for the heavy guitar feels out of place, but in the end, it is a satisfying song. Is there anything that she can’t do?

In September, I wrote about Esthero, the young electronica goddess who took the electronica world by storm. I felt Esthero would be a presence in the industry for years to come. She may be, but Heap is far above Esthero and has bridged the gap between pop and electronica. She proves that these two styles can coexist in Speak for Yourself. Get to your local music venue, speak for yourself and buy a copy of the fresh sound of Imogen Heap-gosh, it feels good.