Cute but bland acoustic pop...
After forming Barefoot Contessa in 1995, four highly acclaimed albums followed before the band changed their name to Helene in 2002 in an effort to showcase the vocal talents of lead singer Helene Dineen. Now the band is back with the new single, 'Marking Time'.
'Marking Time' is a captivating, relatively upbeat acoustic number with a slightly country feel that incorporates a cute melody with subtle, twinkling instrumentation. Although Dineen has been described as 'one of the best singers in Britain', if this is true you wouldn't guess it from listening to this single alone. Yes, there is something slightly hypnotic in her ability to sound at times ice-cool and detached but intensely warm and smouldering at others, and it's certainly very pretty... but it's nothing exceptional.
And it's a similar story with the other two tracks on the single. 'Your Laughter' is, again, pretty enough vocally with a pleasant guitar accompaniment, but feels rather more like inoffensive background music than something a listener can really engage with. 'Big Talker' is more promising, and with its dark and brooding tone it is much more effective at emphasising Dineen's bluesy, emotive vocal performance.
Even if there isn't anything particularly outstanding or original here, there is still something enticing about Helene. If you like this style of chilled-out acoustic music then, despite being a little bland, 'Marking Time' is quite a beautiful single from an obviously talented band.