The Lighter Side Of
The name says it all, really. This is a lighter side of Laura Imbruglia. It’s telling that she would choose to open her first record in four years with the country-inflected ?Wouldn’t Be Surprised?. Adorned with lap steel and lyrics revolving around a break-up of sorts, this isn’t the same Laura Imbruglia who once dreamt about magical washing machines that doubled as jukeboxes.
She’s definitely matured since her eponymous debut in 2006, and it shows. What I love about Imbruglia is her witty lyricism, humorous narratives and endearing, intelligent turns of phrase. Those are thankfully retained, but on The Lighter Side Of? she’s deconstructed her songs using acoustic guitar and uncluttered her arrangements. These are the kinds of changes that come with confidence and songwriting experience. She’s now able to carry raw numbers like the aforementioned opening track, or a song like ?I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend?, which is built on a foundation of acoustic chords and banjo, because her voice has grown stronger. The prototypical Imbruglia beat-and-holler tunes like ?Looking For A Rabbit? off her debut have been discarded this time around.
To capture this more simplistic approach, Imbruglia’s enlisted the help of Nick Huggins, a man who’s no stranger to sparseness through his production work with Kid Sam, Seagull and Catherine Traicos. He helps capture Imbruglia’s essence on the heart-breaking ?When It All Falls Apart (And It Will)?, a sort of garage rock take on Wilco. Even when she does pull out the old electric guitar, such as on ?Pauly? or frenetic album closer ?Terrible Disease/Living On Light?, it’s nowhere near as grungy as the songs off her debut. There’s a lot more room for the melodies to breathe and for Imbruglia to actually sing. ?Pauly? sits somewhere between surf rock and The Bangles, with great lines like: ?He got upset because I hadn’t wrote him a song/So I delivered one to his letterbox/But it was full and I could only fit in the chorus.?
Everything is very clear on The Lighter Side Off?* – from the accompanying instruments to every word Imbruglia delivers. That’s important because, it puts the focus on her lyricism. I don’t think she’ll ever be a world-class pop songwriter, and there’s nothing on *The Lighter Side Of?* that’s as indelible as ?My Dream Of A Magical Washing Machine?, but there’s a lot of joy to gain when you sit down and get comfortable with this album. It’s warm and inviting, and Imbruglia draws you in with her narratives about growing up (?You’re a Parasitic Germ?), dating (?Older Men?) and the twisted side of love (?When It All Falls Apart?). *The Lighter Side Of? is a journey after all, and an endearing one at that.