CINDERELLEN

DARRYL STERDAN

, Last Updated: 4:28 PM ET


CINDERELLEN
Ellen Reid
(Mr. Friendly)

Once upon a time there was a woman named Ellen.

Ellen was very smart and talented. She could play piano, accordion and other instruments. She could also sing beautifully. Ellen joined a little band called Crash Test Dummies. They had a singer with a very deep voice. One day, he wrote a silly song. It was called Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm. It surprised everyone -- probably even them -- by becoming a big hit and making the band (and Ellen) kinda famous.

But do you know what, boys and girls? Fame turned out to be a bitch. The band wrote plenty of other good songs, but never had another hit like that first one. So eventually, they weren't really that famous anymore and the band sorta drifted apart. Some of them moved to England or New York or L.A. The singer with the deep voice started acting very strange, cursing on stage and hanging around with lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia (don't ask, boys and girls; just don't ask). Aside from the odd classic-rock reunion tour, it looked like Ellen's band was kaput. What was she going to do now?

Well, Ellen did what all smart people do when they stop getting invited to parties: She threw her own. So she wrote a dozen songs, invited some new friends over to play them, and made her own album. And she called it Cinderellen, possibly because some of the songs are about fairy tales. But also, we think, 'cause she's the belle of the ball -- at least for one night.

But Cinderellen turns out to be kind of a surprise party. Instead of making the sort of album you'd expect -- one that sounds like her old band -- Ellen recorded all sorts of tunes that remind you of all sorts of people. On the first song, a catchy bit of funky electro-soul called Make You Mine, she sounds like Annie Lennox, belting out a confident vocal in a surprisingly strong voice. On Bullet, she kinda borrows part of the melody from the chorus of Radiohead's Creep and sets it against an intriguing backdrop that can only be described as Celtic trip-hop. Send Me Home slinks along to a jazzy, noirish groove that evolves into a shimmering pop chorus. Get Into is the sort of bluesy, ballsy piano-soul groover you might expect from Fiona Apple. And Anybody Will Do is a crunchy chunk of guitar-pop whose swoopy bass line and sing-songy melody split the diff between Liz Phair, Jennifer Trynin and The Breeders. Sure, there are a few songs like the darkly creamy ballad You're Early that sound like they were written for somebody else -- somebody with a very deep voice, perhaps -- but mostly these songs sound like they were written for Ellen. Surprise!

Ellen's lyrics are a bit of a surprise, too. Nice girls aren't supposed to say some of the things she says. But Ellen doesn't mind being a bad girl -- if she can find a bad boy. "Baby baby, my friends all say that you're perverted / Baby, baby, you know that you've got me converted," she admits on Get Into. Even her fairy-tale lyrics are kind of twisted, boys and girls. Case in point: Anybody Will Do. Its words are more limerick than lyric: "Poor Pinocchio / He watched his nose grow / After he lied to the girl of his dreams / He looked at Giopetto / Said, 'Where was you head-o! / Why didn't you put that thing in my jeans?' " Surprise!

If there's one bad surprise on Cinderellen, it's that it has too many ballads. After such a strong start -- the first handful of songs are all keepers -- the last few tracks dissipate the momentum with too many dreamy melodies and downtempo vibes. After all, a fairy tale is supposed to have a happy ending. So here's one:

And they all lived happily ever after! (More on Crash Test Dummies)

Friday, July 20, 2001

Dummies member makes solo debut

By DARRYL STERDAN
Winnipeg Sun

Videos

Photos