On her website Lene Marlin is rather proud of how she recorded this LP in secret. It was delivered it to her record company fully formed and ready to press. If that conjures up ideas of something akin to PJ Harvey‘s 4-Track Demos or the Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan then you are going to be mightily disappointed.
Marlin has been incredibly successful in her native Norway and across swathes of Western Europe. Since her debut single became the fastest selling record in Norwegian chart history she has been a major player. So when she decided to record an LP without the knowledge of her record company she was able to afford the service and studio time of Stargate Productions. Stargate have added their studio gloss to the works of artist such as Mariah Carey, Holly Valance, Texas, and Nelly. Lo-fi this is not
It’s taken as a given then, that Lost in a Moment is Lene Marlin’s big statement. The record she has always longed to make, her soul on fire, heart on sleeve, her art, her life. The song titles and lyrics show that she has suffered a recently broken heart. Broken hearts and thwarted dreams are real ambrosia for song writers. It is the fuel that fires the creative process. Yet when she sings “I can show you all my scars, you know, the ones I keep inside of me” on I Hope Your Happy, her vocals lack any sort of emotion. The sound and delivery are as polite and sincere as the thanks you get with your Big Mac. In a futile attempt to add a little gravitas a lone cello sighs bellow the bedrock of tasteful acoustic guitars and metronomic beats.
If I was unaware of the genesis of this record I would have sworn that it had been written by a focus group of A&R men. It sounds so Starbucks, so decaf skinny latte. Guitars that don’t quite rock, beats that refuse to hop, lyrics that deal with heartbreak by tumbling forth clich� upon Bridget Jones clich�, it makes Natalie Imbruglia sound like Courtney Love.
The tracks are so uniform in their endlessly gracious blandness that’s its difficult to tell them apart. Scanning back through my notebook next to All I Can Say I have scribbled, acoustic guitars, beside How Would It Be, I’ve written, bit rockier, vaguely 80s. The slight shifts in tone and emphasis are not enough to lift the overwhelming or rather underwhelming mood. So when the big strings kick in at the start of Never To Know or the tear stained piano tinkles during It’s True they lack surprise and soundhollow and empty. Musical motifs chucked in as an attempt to bring a little variation to the blandness. The trick fails.
Much like the endless remakes of Pride and Prejudice where all that changes is the cast, this is like a Dido LP with different chords, louder guitars and even worse lyrics. As anaemic and vacant as pop music can get.