January 8, 2009

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Anya Marina, Slow & Steady Seduction Phase II
Atlantic Records, Jan. 20, 2009

San Diego radio-jock Marina is loaded for chick-flick bear, wielding the unplugged guitar chops of Jewel and the breathy waifishness of an immature Feist, a Kate Havnevik sourball in her mouth when she’s of a particularly regretful mind about such-and-so ex-boyfriend (insignificant fan-fact, for the record: both Havnevik and Marina are on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack CD). The only thing to avoid here is turning your brain off in the face of her Cali-chick gorgeousness and Russian-tennis-Amazon-sounding name; the songs aren’t just perfectly formed wads of chilled-down guitar-tronic Bubblicious, they’ve actually got a distinguishing, lower-midrange-thumping large-bore sound, rare these days when any girl who can write a little music suddenly finds herself pigpiled under a revolving-door round-table of producers with Y chromosomes. Speaking of Britney, Marina dabbles briefly with yo-yo-yo-zombie sex-kitten shenanigans in “Cut it Out,” but it’s made palatable by a battering ram of chunky acoustic guitar chords, leaving you with the impression that there’s genuine toughness beneath her zoned-out, constantly seductive likeability. When you’re not sure whether to throw on Feist, Zero 7 or Submarines, this CD is the guy. AEric W. Saeger