Sally Shapiro’s ‘Somewhere Else’: Album Review

Bradley Stern | February 27, 2013 5:30 am
In case you’re under the impression that Sally Shapiro is content three albums deep into her career, she’s not.

“The title describes the recurrent theme in the music and my life, to somehow never be satisfied with what you have, or where you are — to always wish you were somewhere else,” Shapiro explained of the title of her new record in the official blurb about the release.

It’s not all that surprising to hear from the shy singer, who notoriously doesn’t like to perform live – or even appear on stage at all. In fact, “Sally Shapiro” is just a pseudonym for the mystery chanteuse’s work with producer Johan Agebjörn. Together, they’ve been quietly crafting transportive soundtracks made for sun-soaked daydreaming and contemplative late night drives since the latter half of the 00’s, beginning with 2007’s acclaimed Disco Romance.

With their latest outing, Somewhere Else (out yesterday, ), the dream-pop duo have crafted yet another set of entrancing disco-tinged tunes — a follow-up to their 2009 record, My Guilty Pleasure.

This time around however, the band chose to stretch outside of their solo comfort zone, teaming up with acts like Le Prix, Anoraak and duo Electric Youth (of Drive soundtrack fame), who helped to craft their latest single, “Starman.”

Be it Shapiro’s somber lyricism or Agebjörn’s oft-nostalgic production, there’s always been a lingering melancholy in their music: On lead single “What Can I Do?” a frustrated Shapiro tries to make it work while sounding her sweetest, but ultimately drawing sour conclusions. Yet with such cheerful orchestration fluttering in the background (flutes!), who would ever know there’s trouble in paradise?

As with Disco Romance, the band occasionally dips into rave-ready territory, especially on dance cuts crafted with Swedish producer/DJ, Le Prix including “All My Life,” which sounds like a euphoric Eurodance mix for a Dance Dance Revolution soundtrack. It’s no “We Found Love,” but for the indie-leaning DJ, it’s likely the most dance floor-ready treat.

Elsewhere, the music mellows to a chill as with “Sundown,” a gorgeous midtempo that brings the Pet Shops Boys‘ dreamy 2012 effort, Elysium to mind. (Also, hello saxophone solo!)

“This City’s Local Italo Disco DJ Has A Crush On Me,” of course, is an instant favorite. (Who could resist with that title?) Full of funky rhythms, the Annie-esque track is one of the album’s most glittery moments: “And though he talks about his clubs and shows, there’s no doubt that he wants me so,” Shapiro swoons, followed by some amazingly half-hearted “na-na-na”-ing. It’s like Ke$ha‘s “Fuck Him (He’s A DJ)” — if she sang it with a bar of soap in her mouth.

Somewhere Else is as charming and featherlight as the rest of their discography, but shows growth in all the right places: New collaborations, new sounds, same feeling. Sure, the bells and whistles (and now, saxophones) have changed slightly, but the essence is still satisfyingly Sally Shapiro.

The Best Song Wasn’t The Single: Either of the Le Prix tracks — “All My Life” and “Architectured Love.”

Best Listened To: Midnight drives, daydreaming in the sun, and alone at night when he doesn’t text you back.

Most Likely To Make You Cry: “Sundown,” but potentially all of them.

Rating: 4/5

 Bradley Stern