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Album: I Megaphone
Artist: Imogen Heap
Label: Almo Sounds
Year: 1998
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Angry and loud, but with a distinctive style. Underrated.

These days, Imogen Heap is becoming well known for writing, singing and producing quirky songs about things like falling in love and stalking people (hey, it worked for The Police).

That's why it's so surprising for anyone who's familiar with her recent work to discover her first album, I Megaphone. Pretty much the whole thing bleeds anger into the listener's ears. Themes include getting revenge on someone who tortured her back in school (a fantasy I can certainly appreciate) and the inner turmoil of freeing herself from religious oppression.

Hold on a second. Anger? Religion? Is this going to sound like Nine Inch Nails or something? Well no, it doesn't. At all. Imogen Heap has an impressive ability to contort her voice, changing its timbre half way through lines, which is matched by the quirky way she phrases things in her lyrics (the lack of Trent Reznor's homoerotic imagery also helps differentiate between them, of course).

Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of the whole album. Slow piano based songs in the middle of rock albums generally send me to sleep and the sound of someone jumping up and down on a keyboard at a carnival in the next song isn't really what I like to be woken back up to. (Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92 has the same problem. Listen to Ochre's A Midsummer Nice Dream or the beginning of Nine Inch Nails's The Fragile for an example of how it should be done, with something loud but not downright abrasive after the lull.)

While I'm ranting, although Sweet Religion is still my favourite song on the album, its bridge is merely a meaningless stringing together of atonyms, which strikes me as a particularly lazy cliché for a songwriter as talented as Imogen Heap clearly is.

Having said all that, this album is underrated - or at least largely undiscovered - and worth looking into. It certainly deserves to be much more popular than it currently is.

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