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Time to Shed the Obvious . . . Skin
on July 22, 2001
I love Melissa's music, but her self-titled album remains the high point of her career. Skin is a much more polished, studio-perfect outing; her voice packaged and cleaned up. Breakdown brought a new maturity and a welcomed relief from the catchy, commercial albums of recent years. Melissa is at her best when the noisy music is scaled back ("2001" and "I Could Have Been You", the most blaring examples) and her trademark, powerhouse voice can carry the song, unadulterated.
I have found her writing at times to be superb, on songs "You Can Sleep While I Drive", "Chrome Plated Heart", "The Boy Feels Strange", "Don't You Need" and "Similiar Features" being the most notable, with the latter containing some of her most inspired lyrics: "dancing with the wall made you bitter sweet . . . now the paint's still wet in your do it by number dream."
Although, I can't help but notice familiar, rehashed patterns in her writing as well, with many songs referencing bleeding, tearing, anything "precious", dancing, coffee . . . and who can ignore the angels, a constant and tiresome fixture. (On Skin an angel's fallen from the sky). She also, strangely, holds an odd fascination with the kitchen. Occasionally one song echos another, "Lover Please" and "I'm the Only One" the most recent and noticable examples.
"The Different" is the best song on Skin with lyrics "You've never been to the moon but don't you want to go, under the sea in the volcano" sounding so fresh because it's uncharted material for Melissa.
I'd like to hear less-rehearsed, less radio-friendly songs, more complicated lyrics, layered in new language, and for the obvious insights to vanish with the angels.