Emily Haines review: background music for dinner parties

There is barely a hiccup in tone or texture within this overly fragile album

Choir of the Mind
    
Artist: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
Genre: Alternative
Label: Last Gang Records

Metric frontwoman Emily Haines has taken over a decade to conjure up a follow-up to 2006's Knives Don't Have Your Back. Choir of the Mind is as delicate as its predecessor with its bare-boned piano-led sound and Haines's cloak of layered vocals.

There is a touch of the background dinner-party music to the album: the hushed tremble of her voice; the plucked strings and chamber music melodies are all muted and perfectly polite to the point of indistinguishable blandness. There is barely a hiccup in tone or texture within its lengthy 59-minute running time.

Over the course of the album, with sparse accompaniment, Haines’s sugary whisper is truly exposed and can coagulate to the point of irritation without sufficient support.

The only real break in this slickly smooth road is the robust, driving Legend of the Wild Horse with its crashing cymbals, and the title track, which features looping percussion, spoken word and even a dash of Rihanna's Work, which is used to jarring effect. Ultimately, the soft skeleton of Choir of the Mind may be too fragile to sustain even the most tender of musical souls.