8mm

Songs to Love and Die By
(Curb Appeal Records)

8mm consists of Sean Beavan, longtime producer for Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, and his wife, Juliette. Sean creates hypnotic layers of downtempo grooves and dark trip-hop, while Juliette's sultry, haunting voice sails over the soundscapes with a laissez-faire richness. Critics have compared 8mm to Portishead and filmmaker David Lynch, and while the melancholy music is definitely Portisheady and would fit nicely in one of Lynch's surreal dream sequences, 8mm's songs are less reminiscent of creepy midgets eating beans or shit-disturbing Kyle MacLachlan characters than images of sad, wine-sipping waifs, curling clouds of white smoke in a dim room, and half-burnt love letters. When Juliette painfully moans "You believe in nothing" on the dark, dreamy "Bones," she makes it sound like the worst tragedy of human experience, especially when she goes on to wail, "I believed in me and you." The whole album is a beautiful downer, even when Sean deviates from the sensual synth sequences and acid jazz rhythms that swoon through most of the album and cranks out catchy rock guitar riffs, like the one on "You Know," which sounds like one of the best songs Garbage never made. And the songs are equally evocative when they're just Juliette's voice almost half-whispering over soft, sparse instrumentation, like on "Liar," where she sings, "I'm a liar/It's my secret/No one knows," over simple acoustic strings and light piano. By the time she professes, "I don't think of you/I don't love you anymore," we know she doesn't mean it; hell, she sounds ready to fall down weeping below our windows. 8mm may try on a variety of sounds, but the album as a whole comes off as a cohesive, atmospheric work of art — the perfect soundtrack for breakups and rebound seductions.

 
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