Shalini – The Surface and the Shine
Clean, fun guitar-driven power pop influenced by the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Shalini’s fourth full-length album The Surface and the Shine is a refreshing step back in time. If you appreciate pop music of the past, this album is for you. Shalini plays guitar and bass, and also writes all of her songs. Traces of Motown, punk and alternative-country can be heard throughout The Surface and the Shine, but it never strays too far from its catchy pop feel.
The album begins with “Gloria in Transit,” an up-tempo, danceable shout-out to the 60s. This song’s simple chorus is packed with harmonies that give it a celestial, floaty feel. It is a good opener for the album because it sets up many of its characteristics right away, such as the catchy guitar riffs, pop influences from days gone by and backing vocals in the chorus. These elements can be seen in nearly every song following “Gloria in Transit.”
The song “The Surface and the Shine” definitely deserves to be the title-track. The buildup to the chorus uses the organ that builds tension, which is a great climax of the song. This song is potentially the best on the album because its strong delivery stands out. Then, to add some variety after the faster songs, comes “Where Are We?” with a more country feel. Later on in The Surface and the Shine, the song “Escaped Velocity” follows in this same vein.
Another standout track is “Lipstick + Allusion.” This song begins with playful “ooo-ooo’s,” and the phrase “reading all my junk mail” is delivered with irresistible sass. The album closes with “Magenta Rules,” which pairs a more hard-rock electric guitar part with soaring, pure, slower-paced vocals. The song fades away at the end, where a punchier ending may have been more powerful, but the song is nonetheless a good closer because of its unique blend of genres.
Shalini’s vocals are always perfectly on pitch, but at times her delivery seems a little too clean, leaving the listener desiring for a little grittiness or more passionate emotion. Her songwriting, however, is what’s important about The Surface and the Shine and where her talent is very apparent. This album is good, clean fun from a skilled female musician and songwriter.