Damien Rice’s simply-titled follow-up to his well-liked debut, O (are we seeing a trend here?), is the extent of having a hamster die and replacing it with one that looks undistinguishable. Only, in this case, we want a different hamster.
Like Obie Trice’s sophomore album (try that comparison on for size), 9 acts more like the B-sides to O than an album in its own right.
Some of the songs are fleeting (“Elephant,” “Me, My Yoke, and I,” “Sleep Don’t Weep”) and pull a near-disappearing act alongside songs of much more clarity and power (“9 Crimes,” “Coconut Skins,” “Dogs,” “The Animals Were Gone”).
These problems could have been overlooked, and some cases are, if Rice wasn’t so inclined to not venture out of his shell and explore his sound a little. Not only does 9 sound like O, but it sounds like they were made at the same time.
For all its flaws and missed-opportunities, 9 is a good album; full of heavy-handed songs about this-and-that and everything else.
Regardless of Rice’s limitations at adapting or changing his music, he still manages to create some lofty choruses to go along with some beautiful pieces of music.
All in all, you could do a lot worse.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at email@example.com.