101 Floors, 1 God: Keren Ann, 101.

'Her parents are Russian-Jewish and Dutch-Javanese. She lived in Israel and in the Netherlands until the age of 11, when her family moved to France.' Wikipedia recital out the system, it's fair to say Keren Ann is a somewhat more learned artiste than most of the songstrels movin' on up the charts at any one point in time. 101, her sixth studio LP, is significantly less torturous than its title may suggest, staccato opener My Name Is Trouble shimmering with Goldfrapp glisten lingering beneath glorious spectral vocals. Yet as if burnt out by track two, Run With You is a plodding pastiche of Joan Wasser's Eternal Flame, the off-kilter rhythms stripped back and vaguely orchestral instrumentation plastered on in its place. Similarly All The Beautiful Girls is a melodramatic blueprint thats minimal imprint could've been gently pushed into your neuronal receptors by any number of singer songwriters with a pair of X chromosomes. Fortunately Sugar Mama is somewhat more buoyant, and sees Ann in ebullient mood as if disported for the first time since needle went to vinyl, crunching guitars and wonky time signatures transposed onto trashy teen soundtrack. She Won't Trade It For Nothing is, bemusingly, irrevocably Canadian in saccharine aural aesthetic and were it tangible would be dripping in Rowse Honey, whilst You Were On Fire, fittingly, is the most smouldering of slow-burners, its despondent embers barely flickering at times. Song From A Tour Bus is swathed in enough reverb to fill Alex Scally's Beach House, whilst Strange Weather evokes the crestfallen croon of Sarah McLachlan, before the title track denouement provides the unequivocal centrepiece, Ann emphatically, climactically counting down from 101 floors to 1 God as if ushering in the implosion of a remote star only known to those that take "29 years to orbit the sun", whilst simultaneously conjuring suspense and implying an underlying religiosity to 101. It's an enthralling and hypnotic way to conclude a largely lukewarm record that could've profited from crumbs of this both warming and worrying pièce de résistance littered throughout.