Sophie Burbery And Little Bark – Hope Is Rubbery CD REVIEW

Sometimes I despair of my colleagues. Or perhaps it’s just the way that they get quoted by publicists. I’m told that Nick Bollinger described Hope Is Rubbery as “curious, fantastical songs, like falling through clouds.” That made me want to listen to it, as did the hyperbolic comments of a raft of other local reviewers.
I guess I was sent this local, self-released CD some months after its release, because Sophie Burbery is now about to tour to support it. Apart from the reviews, both the cover, and the format, also endears me to Hope Is Rubbery. Hell, even the name makes me want to like it.
Maybe the expectation was just too high, but I was disappointed. With its cover full of colourful, highly personalised animal imagery, I expected music about as charming as a Miyazaki movie. I love the fact that Burberry has produced two discs using two distinct characters – one is herself, the other is Little Bark. It’s seemed too good to be true, and it was.
The first disc was recorded in Dunedin with some really talented people, like Bob Scott (The Bats) and Tristan Dingemans (HDU, Mountaineater) and producer Dale Cotton, but it seems like a mismatch. It’s pleasant enough, but Burberry’s frail, high-toned voice sounds lost amongst the sundry musical backing.
The second disc, under the Little Bark name, is much more electronic, and better suits her needs. I’m told she enlisted the help of Wellingtonians from Phoenix Foundation, but it doesn’t sound like those guys. No, as Grant Smithies noted, it’s a little bit Cyndi Lauper and a little bit Pet Shop Boys. Sadly, not in a good way.
It feels mean to rain on Burbery’s parade, but this album (or two mini-albums) don’t resolve themselves into a distinctive entity; neither do the songs remain in the cranium, begging the listener to re-experience them. After all the hype, I was expecting something as good as Annabel Alper’s debut. Hope Is Rubbery has some good hands in its honey-pot, but Burbery hasn’t net revealed her net worth. GARY STEEL
Music = 2.5
Sound = 2.5 (disc one) and 3 (disc 2)

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