Album Review: “Details” by Frou Frou


Frou Frou was an electronic duo, consisting of singer-songwriter Imogen Heap and producer and songwriter Guy Sigsworth.  Both of them wrote, produced, and played, while Heap provided the vocals.  The two separated back in 2003 to go do other things musically, leaving Heap to her own solo work.

Usually, electronic music is a bit hit-or-miss with me, but Heap and Sigsworth manage to combine strings, piano, guitar, and other instruments with electronic beats and other electronic sounds in a very effective manner such that the music doesn’t sound electronic, per se, and all of that is complimented by Heap’s excellent vocals.

“Details” can overall be described as a very lighthearted-sounding album.  With the exception of a few tracks, the tracks are upbeat and ethereal, even when the subject matter is actually solemn, a quality that I personally find interesting and endearing in a way.

“Maddening Shroud,” for example, is an upbeat song filled with bells, but if you actually listen to the lyrics, it sounds as if it’s from the perspective of somebody who’s extremely unhappy with life – perhaps even depressed – particularly with the lines “I’ve got a good mind to throw it all away / After all what is it worth?”

“It’s Good To Be In Love” is another track along these lines.  From its mood and title, you’d assume that it’s about joy over being in love, but a closer listen to the lyrics portrays that it’s about being in love with somebody and trying to be happy for them in being in love with someone else.

One of the more interesting tracks on the album is “Shh,” a very atmospheric piece with a consistent beat throughout, until it quiets, eventually jumping into an instrumental solo.  The song has an air to it that I’d almost describe as unnerving, but I think that’s part of what makes it so interesting.

By far, the high point of the album to me is “Hear Me Out.”  Depending on how you look at the lyrics, you can either see it as an unrequited love or as seeking the love of someone who’s left you.  Either way, Heap and Sigsworth have a way with words in expressing it, with lines like “I’m a slow-motion accident / Lost in coffee rings and finger prints.”  Among Heap’s vocals, the beat, the instrumentals, the intense bridge of the song, and the aforementioned lyrics, one of the most interesting things to me about the song is that the duo managed to work all of these elements around an ambient song, “An Ending (Ascent)” by Brian Eno.

The album closer, “The Dumbing Down Of Love” is a soft, mostly acoustic track, which is raw and full of emotion.  Heap’s voice stands out clear over the piano, strings, and electronic bits of the song.  A little more than halfway through, the instruments all quiet down as Heap sings one of my favorite quotes: “Music is useless unless it can make a complete stranger break down and cry.”  The song dies down with repeating lines by Heap and soft trumpets.

“Details” is honestly just an excellent album, and it’s one of my absolute favorites.  I like some tracks more than others, and I like some tracks less than others, but I wouldn’t say there’s a single bad track on the album.  There’s emotion to be found in each and every track, whether it’s upbeat, unnerving, eerie, or raw, and the lyrics are poetic.

I highly recommend that you give the album some consideration if you’ve never heard it before.  It’s a truly interesting and creative album.

For specific songs to check out, I recommend “Let Go,” “Breathe In,” and “Hear Me Out.”

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