This hot, hot, hot husband/wife duo began their project quite by accident. Sean Beavan, famed producer of Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and No Doubt was in the studio producing Kill Hannah?s magnificent ?For Never and Ever? album when they needed a female backing vocalist for their soon-to-be hit single, ?Kennedy.? Sean?s wife, Juliette stepped in to fill the gap and the rest is, as they say, rock and roll history. The band self-released an enticing EP, ?Opener,? which we described as ?mouthwateringly delectable? (the band still use our blurb in their marketing literature!) and soon found themselves enjoying over 7,000 hits on their MySpace site. The LA Times selected them as a ?Buzz Band? and they ranked in the Top 3 on MySpace?s down tempo and trip-hop categories. But don?t let that scare you off ? there?s no whining rap attacks going on here, just a collection of ten seductive scorchers that?ll melt your heart (and speakers) for days on end.
All eyes are now focused squarely on the sultry seductress and her knob-twiddling hubby as they release their debut album on the newly formed Curb Appeal imprint. In fact, you?re already familiar with the band ? even if you don?t know it ? if you watch any TV at all: the album is book ended with two tracks that appeared in the ?One Tree Hill? program, ?No Way Back? and ?Forever And Ever Amen.? The latter appeared in the episode, ?Songs To Live And Die By,? which was lifted directly from the title of their album. And if ?One Tree Hill? is a little too young for your tastes, ?Grey?s Anatomy? groupies will recognize ?Liar? from the climactic scene of February 8?s ?Walk On Water? episode. [The band have also placed music on MTV?s ?Road Rules? and that?s them covering Carly Simon?s ?Nobody Does It Better? on the ?Mr. & Mrs. Smith? soundtrack.]
So, after all the hoopla, you?re probably asking, ?How?s the album?? Well, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty damn good (to quote Larry David)! That opener, ?No Way Back? is a sultry, string driven thing, with Juliette?s pleading ?Stay with me? vocal melting hearts for miles around. And speaking of TV placement, ?Bones? should have been the theme to the hit Fox TV show, with its catchy guitar riffs and mysterious, yet cautiously optimistic arrangement forming the perfect background to this quirky, medical crime drama.
Juliette assumes the punk priestess persona on the funky, aggressive ?You Know,? a personal choice for lead single that suggests Sean?s previous production work with No Doubt. This may also catch the ears of jaded Garbage fans, whose onetime manager, Shannon O?Shea currently ?facilitates? 8MM?s career. ?Stunning? applies to much more than the provocative, semi-naked photos of Juliette in the booklet; it?s also the title of the memorable, swinging, hop, skip, and jump track that introduces a coy, little girl squeal to Juliette?s vocals that will endear her even more to the listener.
The couple slow the pace down with the aforementioned ?Liar,? a romantically reflective acoustic ballad with a delicately tearful vocal, and ?Quicksand? sucks you into the titular muck, pulling you into its seductive sway with an anthemic, swirling arrangement. I haven?t been this mesmerized since Aimee Mann warned me that ?Voices Carry.? ?Give It Up,? one of two tracks carried over from the EP, ventures into the late night jazzy grooves of a Portishead or Laika and Sean takes the mic for closer, ?Forever and Ever Amen? and he has an agreeable, sleepy voice that?s straight out of the LA singer/songwriter movement of the 70?s (e.g., Jackson Brown, Dan Fogelberg) with a hint of vintage Elton John, ca. ?Madman Across the Water? and ?Tumbleweed Connection? peering out from behind this piano-driven charmer. And be sure to stick around until about the 7:00 mark for the bonus track, a swinging little acoustic country number that peels away the sheen and high-gloss production for a simple clap along with just Sean, Juliette and an acoustic guitar. It suggests that the couple would be just as comfortable in front of 50 people at a cozy, intimate coffee house setting as a 5,000 seat arena full of screaming, Bic lighter-waving fanatics! 8/10 -- Jeff Penczak (9 May, 2007)