September 30th, 2012 | Album reviews

Susanna Hoffs

Baroque Folk/Vanguard

Many people know Susanna Hoffs primarily her role as the bombshell singer for the 80s girl group the Bangles, and because Prince wrote the hit song “Manic Monday” for the band (or as I am more prone to believe, he wrote it specifically for Hoffs in the hopes she’d sleep with him). In more recent years the Bangles have reunited; meanwhile, Hoffs has continued with her own solo material, the most recent offering being this, an ode to her 1960s folk/pop roots. In Someday, Hoffs dives headfirst into the divisive “singer-songwriter folk” category with mixed results. Produced by Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello), the album surprisingly suffers from an identity crisis. Her voice is as pristine as ever, and the intricately arranged instrumentals including violins, mandolins, harpsichords, and various horns succeed in adding a depth to the “baroque folk” Hoffs said she was aiming for, but seem to be at odds with Hoffs’ uniquely breathy, come-hither vocals. And while the music at times comes across as overly arranged, there is neither lyrical depth nor any discernible “catchiness” to steer the record into successful folk or pop territory. Much of the lyrical delivery and content sounds like a bad poetry slam, with such misses as “Trying to converse/We end up in reverse/Lines so easy to say/Almost always taken the wrong way,” taken from the song “True” (and really, should an 80s singer ever evoke Spandau Ballet in her song titles?). As a folk album composer, perhaps Hoffs should stick to the classics, and spare herself what feels like a 30 minute innocuous ode to menopausal frustration and “re-discovery.”

-Lindsay Parker