Independiente – 2001 – 32 minutes

Stina Nordenstam returns with her first album of original material since 1997's Dynamite. 'This Is' is a harder beast than her breakthrough album, 1994's 'And She Closed Her Eyes', but the elfin Swedish chanteuse can still captivate and infuriate in equal measure.

The unearthly beauty of Nordenstam's eerie voice is best showcased on dreamy opener, 'Everyone Else in the World', a plea for love in the style of Bacharach and David's 'Anyone Who had a Heart' and the disco-influenced 'Lori Glory' tootles along in an almost cheerful manner. Her collaborations with Suede's Brett Anderson on the faux-glam of 'Keen Yellow Planet' and childhood memory 'Trainsurfing' work better than expected as Anderson is kept strictly to the role of straight-man to Nordenstam's strange little girl rather than being allowed free rein with his usual histrionics.

Such moments aside, Nordenstam occasionally veers into the realm of the twee and vaguely annoying as with 'The Diver' (which juxtaposes cooed vocals with jarring industrial guitar) and the insipid 'Welcome to Happiness'.

Although 'This Is' is not quite up to the standard of 'And She Closed Her Eyes', over the course of half an hour Nordenstam still manages to deliver soul songs from another dimension. Worth investigating.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Everyone Else In The World - Trainsurfing - So Lee - The Driver - Circus - Stations - Keen Yellow Planet - Lori Glory - Welcome To Happiness - Clothe Yourself - For The Wind - Sharon & Hope