Emiliana Torrini @ Ruby Lounge, Manchester 12. March 2009
By Dave Simpson
With her cutesy dress and scraped-back hair, Icelandic songstress Torrini looks like butter wouldn't melt. However, beneath the prim exterior lurks a very bad girl. "It was pure happiness for me," she says, describing a situation involving "cocktails and dirty men".
Moments later, she's asking for whisky and politely introducing "Bleeder" as "a song about fucking". Somehow, it's unsurprising that she co-wrote Kylie's raunchy epic, "Slow". This sort of playfulness is rampant in her music, as she darts from quirky electronica to raging Pink Floyd/New Order atmospheric rock to haunting lullabies. "Me and Armini" - the title track of her recent album - should see Torrini joining the select band of female singers who have had whopping hits with reggae. The ridiculously catchy "Jungle Drum" could be Björk given a Bo Diddley beat; however, Torrini confesses to "a problem" with the dance she was supposed to be doing to it. "It all went wrong down there," she quips.
She sings with her eyes closed and a half-narcotic, half-sexual smile, and between songs suggests that it's time she changed the "just turned 21" line in 1999's "Unemployed in Summertime" because she's almost 32 now and "young people are silly".Her music changes so much that some moments inevitably fare better than others - the acoustic numbers sound a bit identikit after an hour. But just as the cutesy-rudey persona threatens to grate, she unleashes another intriguing twist."This is for my Spanish pervert," she says. "It's a long story."