Jen Hingley is a twenty five year old multi-instrumentalist from Manchester who recently released a full length album entitled Autonomy. She presents us with fuzzy, 90’s alternative tinged song that bring to mind bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage and Mazzy Star. To get more specific the music is very reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins during their Siamese Dream and Gish era.
I have to give credit where it’s due as Hingley did everything on the album herself. She wrote the songs then recorded them and later mixed and mastered them herself. The results are impressive for a DIY album but is far away from what you expect from something recorded at a professional studio. One point I would like to make here is that doing everything yourself is fine but think it’s basically essential to get outsider criticism at different points. It’s so easy to start losing perspective of the songs after you have heard them about 100 times. You can start over-thinking, re-doing, etc before you’re left wondering if the album is a steaming pile of crap.
This album took a bit of time to settle in. Upon my first listen the songs sounded similar with no clear highlights. Hingley uses the same palette of sounds which I think is a bit of a double-edge sword. It does provide a consistent theme and tone for the album but you can also risk the audience checking out.
The album starts off with “It’s in Your Eyes” which is a solid song that revolves around a lot of distortion. Hingley pours on a good amount of fuzz that seemed to be of the same strand that Weezer and The Smashing Pumpkins used in the early 90’s. In order for her vocals to cut through the mix she either boosted a lot of high end frequencies or put a little distortion on her vocals. The overall sound is intense creating a wave of white noise. As the album progresses they were a mixed bag of songs. Some of the more notable songs are “Solo”, “Frozen Again” and “Restart”.
From a production standpoint I would tell Hingley to be careful on those high frequencies in the future. The combination of too many high frequencies can lead not only to masking your mid and low range but not really being able to crank it because your ears will ring. I would also encourage her to think about ways she differentiate her songs.
Hingley is a work in progress with potential but still has a way to go before she can compete with the upper echelon of rock. That being said Autonomy has some inspired moments that shine through. I’ll be keeping my eye on her, following her trajectory.
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