Extra Virgin

by: Olive

A year after its initial release, Olive's debut album, Extra Virgin, finally produced a number one British hit with "You're Not Alone," a low-key lite trip-hop number with a graceful melody. It's a strong single, and there are similarly strong moments on Extra Virgin, yet Olive don't stand out from the post-Portishead pack. Like Everything but the Girl, they are essentially a folky, pop-oriented group that uses the stoned rhythms of trip-hop as hip window-dressing. Since that rhythm is appealing on its own terms, it doesn't matter that Olive use it as ornamentation, especially since they use it well. What is a problem is their lack of consistent songwriting. Only a few songs match the singles "You're Not Alone" and "Miracle" in terms of memorable, melodic construction, and the weaker tracks tend to float by on their admittedly entrancing production. And that leaves Extra Virgin an intriguing debut, but not necessarily one that promises great things from Olive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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