They may come from a land down under, but unlike their countrymen Men At Work, the enchanting pop of Mandalay won’t make you chunder. The duo of Nicola Hitchcock and Saul Freeman have constructed elegant song structures with vivid tales of melancholy on their domestic debut, Solace. Through much of the downspun dischord, vocalist Hitchcock sounds eerily similar to The Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, while Freeman’s programming fine-tunes trip-hop melody, tearing off much of the coating to reveal more straightforward songs. Romance is predominant, with song titles like “Deep Love,” “Enough Love”• you get the point. As sweet as these titles may sound, this is no sappy pop record ala Debbie Gibson. The depth of Hitchcock’s lyrics and voice, with Freeman’s liberal but wise use of strings and minor keys will help you find Solace in Mandalay.
V2 Records, 14 E. 4th Street, New York, NY 10012; http://www.v2music.com