TANYA DONELLY Beautysleep (4AD) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Tanya Donelly played in some of the best alterna-pop bands of the mid-90s, then bellyflopped with her solo debut, 97's wimpy Lovesongs For Underdogs. Half a decade (and one child) later, she's back with a brilliant sophomore effort. Beautysleep's a throwback, in a good way, as none of these songs would've sounded out of place on a Belly album. Donelly mixes swirling post-punk guitars with ethereal e-bow and xylophone chimes and a dash of smoky country soul, creating fragile, gauzy pop songs with bite. Her voice is still subversively sexy, sounding like a less opiated Hope Sandoval, and her lyrics are characteristically starry-eyed and slightly gothic. Gorgeous lullabies from the Island of Misfit Toys.