Bachelorette | My Electric Family

Drag City (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  June 1, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars


Annabel Alpers's debut album for Drag City (as Bachelorette) seems wholly devoted to her first uttered ground rule: "Daydream: Make sure it's good stuff." But though New Zealand's leading lady of bedroom pop is given to fanciful frolicking through lo-fi meadows, Alpers never mistakes daydreaming with checking out of reality entirely.

Quite the contrary: My Electric Family, even with all its electronic doodaddery, is a record concerned with locating something real in an increasingly virtual world. That its textures simultaneously subvert and enhance this hunt only attest to Alper's often witty stripe of smarts. The seething drone of "The National Grid" ramps sluggishly up, only to crest into a pistonesque march that's a lot more mechanical and plodding than its burgeoning energy would have you bracing for.

"Technology Boy" comes off like a cuddly Barbara Morgenstern track possessed by the robo-clinical chattiness of Stereolab, its long bridge cobbled together from soft organ tones, little flicks of digital punctuation, and a pulsing microsample of Annabel's breath. Sometimes the quirk factor leaps too high — though it's hard to fault a song called "Donkey" for being silly, especially when it pays off with a woozy detour into Badalamenti-esque spaghetti surrealism.

"You stay in your room/On the computer/Observing strangers/Ignoring those around you," she sings on "Where to Begin" — and though she might be singing about herself, cloistered away to wring little masterpieces from a ensemble of circuits, Alpers has a knack like few others for spinning our over-interconnected loneliness into something more like a blissful collective daydream.

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