We're back in Chicago and once again we're here to review a one-woman project (after Rasplyn a few days ago). This time, however, we will not indulge ourselves in musical history, on the contrary. Today, Adele Nicholas invites us into her lo-fi home studio where she recorded some dark dance tunes with a lot of "bass that goes 'whomp'". Bass is indeed the leitmotiv on this album, along with some spacey electronics, intelligent beats and an often fragile vocals. Unmanageable is the result of several years of experimenting with analog instruments and an array of electronics. Yet, it also proves that Axons should step out of her lo-fi studio, get herself a decent record deal and a professional production.
The music on Unmanageable is actually very good. Deep basses and stealthy percussions have the ability to trigger a dance session but at the same time it's quite soothing and relaxing. Adele's voice floats above the music, as if it has its own life, parallel to the electronics. Together with the use of guitars here and there this makes the music warm and comfortable. There's clearly some influences from trip-hop, electroclash and eighties electro in here. There's enough variation between the eight songs to keep it interesting.
Yet, on some occasions Unmanageable does sound like a bedroom recording. The lo-fi production gives the album a sense of innocence and courage but it doesn't honour the quality and the songwriting skills that Axons obviously possesses. I'm quite sure a professional producer can lift songs like 'Wrists Hands Fingers' and 'Silent Slumber' to a world class level. With songs like these, Axons could be a fierce competitor for all those auto-tuned one-woman projects that appear in the worldwide charts. Most of the songs on Unmanageable have this radio-friendly yet dark, alternative feel.
So to conclude, this is a very decent album with some excellent songs. The lo-fi approach is very charming but I think the quality of the songs is way too good for this approach. Everyone who likes to listen to the likes of Banks or Austra (or witch-house projects like White Ring or Balam Acab) should give this project a chance. Unmanageable is available as a pay-what-you-want digital download and on cassette. I'm sure we'll hear a lot more of this project in the future...