Audio Mixer: Robert Orton.
Recording information: Assault & Battery Studios; Strong Studios.
Whether she cares to distance herself from her famous father or not, Eliot Sumner sounds so uncannily like Sting that it's difficult to squelch the comparisons. Her full-bodied and smoky voice is striking and undeniably similar, and yet she manages to elevate herself beyond easy comparisons with quite a debut album. Fans of her previous outfit, I Blame Coco, will hear a little of the bright electro-pop found on that 2010 release (especially on "What Good Could Ever Come Of This"), but six years later, Sumner has found her true self. Or at least a closer version of it. Darker, more real, and more intense: Information (Cherrytree/Interscope) is the sound of a young, krautrock-loving artist finding an identity and distilling the essence of her own artistic voice. Sure, some songs might immediately set off the nostalgic alarm for Sting/Police fans, like on the excellent "After Dark" and its sibling track, "Firewood," but there are other influences at play. The sprawling shimmer of the title track suggests tinges of early Killers synth-rock and Lorde's androgynous goth-pop, while the muscle of Gary Glitter-stomper "Halfway to Hell" hints at bold arena rock glory. "I Followed You Home" swirls with emotionally urgent synth bliss in a driving mix of Silversun Pickups and Metric shooting for the moon. "Come Friday" is equally as euphoric, soaring to exciting heights that seem to have been unlocked in the years since Coco. Throughout, there is a sense of suspense, even anxiety, as Sumner seems on the cusp of fully realizing her sonic vision. It's refreshing and exciting to witness the process of claiming self and identity, both as a musician and a person. On closing track "Species" -- a spooky drum loop that vibes like New Order's "Blue Monday" with a Radiohead heartbeat -- she challenges identity, gender, and sexuality, forgoing labels and refusing the easy pigeonhole. Throughout this solid debut -- free of distractions and associations -- Sumner sheds her past musical experiments and proves that she's more than just a famous name. ~ Neil Z. Yeung