Reverb Records – 2002 – 46 minutes

It's taken a while but Nina Hynes finally releases her follow-up to 1999's 'Creation' EP. Taking three years, the services of seventeen musicians and singers, including the entire Frames contingent, she has fashioned an ambitious and thoughtful album. Mixing samples and strings, radio-friendly pop and darker explorations, Hynes sets her sights firmly on the future.

'Mono Prix', the first single from the album, marries upbeat lyrics to a toe-tappingly catchy tune and deserves to be the soundtrack to many a summers day. Shiny happy pop tunes drive the first part of 'Staros' but Hynes occasionally wrong-foots herself as on the anti-consumerist 'Last Song of the 20th Century'. The wide-screen sound of 'Tenderness' does not disguise the fact that there are too many ideas and sounds vying for attention.

Elsewhere Hynes develops and maintains a sense of intimacy as she seduces the listener as well as the lover; the quiet count into 'Time Flies', near-claustrophobic vocals on 'Universal', the audible ache in her voice on the title track.

Quirky, yet full-bodied, 'Staros' is an album of almost realised ambitions for this talented Irish artist.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Time Flies – Mono Prix – Universal – The Other Side of Now – Last Song of the 20th Century – Tenderness – Shine – Swallow – Dive – Zhivago Blue – Now – Staros