Emiliana Torrini - Love in the Time of Science

(Originally published in Cool & Strange Music's Guilty Pleasures column)

By all logic, I should have nothing to do with this disc. It's an unremarkable (if well-crafted) piece of 90s-style synth-pop. There's simply no way to put a hip spin on this thing. Whispery vocals backed by trip-hop noodlings and occasional electronic bleeps are not the stuff of desert island discs. For crying out loud, Roland Orzabal of the contemptible Tears for Fears even provided songwriting, production and arrangements!

And yet, I play the damn thing constantly. In fact I have two copies, one of which is always in the car, ready to pop into the CD player for a quick fix.

Torrini's breathy vocals and introspective lyrics amount to little more than non-threatening Björk lite, with all of the melodrama and none of the wit or wackiness. (I'll table my Björk fetish for another column – or a visit to my analyst).

So what's the appeal to an aging punk-rocker-cum-jazzbo? OK... I'll admit it – I sometimes make purchases using the judgment of an adolescent girl. I'll occasionally buy a record because the cover features an attractive member of the opposite sex. I'm not proud of it, but it happens. Torrini is a well-scrubbed yet earthy Italian/Icelandic beauty; all tousled hair, pouting lips and creamy freckly skin, but that still doesn't account for my listening habit.

After much soul-searching, I can only come to one conclusion: I love this album because I'm a sucker for a chick with an accent. Any accent. Hell, I can develop a mad crush on a crackly voice coming through the speaker at a drive-through burger joint in Louisiana. It must have something to do with a childhood spent lusting after exotic television beauties like Emma Peel and Ellie Mae Clampett.

You may not find Love in the Time of Science at your local Sam Goody store, but it's easy to come by. Promotional copies routinely sell on eBay or half.com for six bucks or less. There may not actually be any stock copies in the marketplace, just thousands of promos. Who knows?

At least I didn't pay retail.