Published Oct 22, 2015In a contemporary pop world that has seen moody, dreamy singers like Lana Del Rey and Canadian up-and-comer Nicole Dollanganger enjoy previously unprecedented success, the hazy, reverb-soaked folk effort by Vancouver indie artist Jenn Bojm felt full of promise.
With help from her main instrumentalist, bandmate Colin Cowan of the Vancouver psych-pop band Colin Cowan & The Elastic Stars, Bojm's debut Coconut Bay does at least one thing very well, and that's striking a mood. Aesthetically, the album paints a breezy beachside scene, while the music and lyrics — and even the artist's own description: "lopsided lilts and lonely love songs, whose tempo does not exceed that of the beating of a napping heart" — colour it with an underlying sense of melancholy.
Much of that rings true. Bojm's forlorn cries, droning backdrops and yearning lyrics move slowly, solemnly and dynamically. "Flotsam Parade" and "Nightingale, Diving Loon" are dreamlike, with drawn-out vocal melodies and watery guitar echoes that bounce around in the song's wide sonic space. All six tracks are far from happy, but they're not categorically sad, either. And that's probably Bojm's greatest weakness.
Coconut Bay is the sum of its parts, which is a problem: the parts themselves aren't singularly exceptional, or even discernibly different from one another. It's an album occupied more with mood than melody, adequately capturing a sense of loneliness in a beautiful place, but lacking direction to move either away from it or deeper into it. All told, that's not a bad place for any artist to be, but there's room for improvement here. (Independent)