Masha Qrella Unsolved Remained

Swooning female voice? A smattering of skittish electro-beats? A couple of nods to techno? No one would think that a geographical location could have a sound, but Berlin is coming close, and indeed resident Masha Qrella does indulge in some of the same sounds as other Berlin-centric artists, notably Erlend Oye’s Unrest. Essentially a mix of acoustic indie-pop with electro flourishes, Qrella does have some inventive moments, like in the Björk-esque "Guided By the Stripes,” but sometimes her clear, cool voice has a hard time coming above the clutter of ideas. In "I Can’t Tell,” the background recalls a dance-y Tom Waits, which could provide an interesting counterpoint to Qrella’s lovely alto, but her voice tends to be monotone and gets lost behind the clanks and reverb guitar. This is also heard in "C.Bones,” where everything just feels a bit off, like she’s one or two ideas away from a great song. Indeed, there were times that a greater variation in Qrella’s voice would take this album above the glut, but there is still more than a whiff of inventiveness and beauty that makes Unsolved Remained a rough gem of an album. (Morr)