It might seem a bit early for a collection of B-sides and remixes from Emilíana Torrini, given her relatively meagre output of three albums thus far. Yet somehow just over a decade has elapsed since her first singles for One Little Indian, while her solo records have established her as an artist to keep an eye on, one capable of several different styles in the course of a long player.
Inevitably her voice and eclectic approach, not to mention her Icelandic roots, have led to comparisons with her better known compatriot Björk. While the two have an undeniably similar approach to their music Torrini has her own vocal style, not as demonstrative but still very distinctive, able to stamp her personality on her music within just a few seconds.
Some of the songs here will be familiar to Torrini devotees, and even those that are not exhibit the singer’s familiar charms. Tuna Fish, for example sounds like a recording made directly from her own bedroom. “I am lying in my bed watching a spider eat the fly,” she confides. Her effortless word painting is an attractive feature throughout, with a beautifully picturesque verse on To Be Free leading to a chorus that wanders restlessly to the words “I don’t know what to do with myself”.
If You Go Away is a different sound world altogether, extremely humid and more than a little unsettling in its first verse resignation that “if you go away on this summer’s day, then you might as well take the sun away”. The music blossoms when Torrini looks at the other side of the coin, the scenario that the object of her affections might actually stay. Dead Things, while more of a seemingly routine ballad, also pulls off this trick effectively, getting off to a relatively downbeat start but suddenly drenching itself in distortion half way through.
The second disc includes some remixes which are on the face of things superficial, but are generally well chosen. The lovely instrumentation on Baby Blue is very subtly expanded into a widescreen version by Rae & Christian, while Futureshock do a nice, spacey house number on To Be Free, which shows its versatility with further remixes from Dillon & Dickens and Raw Deal.
Long term Torrini fans will have heard a lot of this material before, but the collection is thoughtfully planned and strikingly packaged, its butterfly images on the front cover something of a visual indication of what lies in store. The former Gus Gus vocalist, even in her B-sides and outtakes, is capable of saying more than your average songwriter.