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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Stop Thinking…and start burning your bra

Let’s get something straight here: I’m not a woman. I have a very limited perspective on the female experience. It seems to my male ears that cellist Lindsay Mac’s newest release Stop Thinking (Taiga Records) has a steady stream of estrogen flowing through it. I’m not saying an estrogen stream is a bad thing-it’s just not a stream I swim in freely. With that said, I’ll try to paint the most accurate picture I can of Stop Thinking.

Lindsay Mac has a charming story of her rise to cello-playing fame. Raised by party-animal parents in Iowa, she began playing the cello at the age of six. She studied cello throughout high school, and then jumped around colleges studying everything from ski patrolling to medicine. She ended up living in a tiny, stove-heated cabin in New Hampshire, where she developed her trademark technique of holding her cello like a guitar. She released her first album Small Revolution (Taiga Records) in 2007. Her newest album, Stop Thinking, was just released on October 3rd.

Mac’s educational history explains the best aspect of Stop Thinking: musically it is stimulating and unique. The whimsical arrangements include bass clarinet, banjo, cajon (an afro-peruvian drum), turntable, violin, and, of course, cello. This distinctive gathering of instruments is most effectively used on the album’s more lively tunes like “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Stop Thinking.”

The album’s slower tracks (e.g. “7 Stones” and “Pavement”) also have unique instrumentation, but are not quite as successful. They drag on a bit too long and sound like a lighter, folkier, early Portishead.

One would think that with such an eccentric history, Lindsay Mac would have a lot of interesting, honest things to say about life. Apparently, living in a stove-heated cabin in New Hampshire doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a poet. Mac’s lyrics and delivery lack honesty and content. If Liz Phair and Ani Difranco are the New York Times’ Op-ed section, Lindsay Mac is the Metro’s talk-to-three-people-on-the-street section. An example from the title track: “This clock is ticking beside my head/ it’s four in the morning I can’t feel my bed/ I’m caught in the circles and mazes in my mind/ searching for something I can never find….” Maybe if I swam in the stream of estrogen more freely these lyrics would strike deep into my heart. At the moment, though, they really bore me and strike me only as cliché.

Overall I give this album 2 ½ out of 5 stars. The music is fun and interesting, but the lyrics are lackluster and strongly targeted towards females. If you’re a woman, or a man who can enjoy the fruits of the estrogen tree, and you want a so-so electro-folk album by a talented cellist, buy this album. If, like me, you do not swim freely in the aforementioned stream, and are looking for something with a little more depth, pass on this one.