As with David Gray, it's hard to escape the suspicion that Armstrong has been criticised less for her music than for the people who are presumed to like it. Just as Gray's audience is supposed to be comprised of Mondeo-driving middle managers singing along on their way to Furniture Village, so all Dido fans are meant to be sad girls, lolling on the sofa of a Friday evening, pausing halfway through their bottle of Blossom Hill and their copy of Shopaholic Ties the Knot to idly wish their lives were more like those of the people in the Doritos adverts. It would be nice to report that Dido's second album is strong enough to reveal her detractors as snobs, who hate the notion that her music appeals to "ordinary" people - ie, people who are so pragmatic about their musical choices that they buy only one or two albums a year.
Sadly, it proves a little more complicated than that.
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The single and opening track, White Flag, is a superb, confidently written pop song, possessed of a chorus that is impossible to dislodge from your memory without the aid of hypnotherapy. Nevertheless, its trundling breakbeats and strings also serve notice that Life for Rent is not a radically different album from its predecessor. That doesn't really matter when the songwriting is strong, as on the title track or the closing See the Sun.
But when it falters, Life for Rent seems too wan to hold your attention. Mary's in India is a song about infidelity - Dido displays her sisterly devotion to a friend by shagging her boyfriend while she's off travelling - but the tune and the flat lyrics render even this topic mundane.
- My Faire Lady.
- Life For Rent;
- Thinking and Skills for Success at the Office: Disclosing what management expects, values and rewards; How you can guarantee your marketability as a professional.;
- When a Believer Marries a Nonbeliever.
- Life for Rent Quotes by Dido.
As a result, instead of pondering the story and the issues it raises, you find your mind wandering. You notice that an awful lot of Life for Rent's song titles do indeed resemble the names of chick-lit novels - Mary's in India, See You When You're 40, Sand in My Shoes - and wonder if there isn't something slightly cynical and forced about Dido's approach to her audience after all.
You also find yourself dwelling on her tendency to overenunciate, which at one thought-provoking moment leaves her sounding as though she is singing: "I'll see you when you're farty. What you're left with is a weirdly equivocal album. Its best moments suggest that Armstrong is unfairly maligned, that her success is founded on a songwriting talent so undeniable that even people who don't really like music cannot help but be charmed. At worst, it's twee and bland, aural wallpaper that only someone who didn't really like music could care about.
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