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My Dear Machine EP

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Jul
My Dear Machine EP
Sounds like … the Sixpence None the Richer people know and love, which recalls the alternative pop of The Sundays, Innocence Mission, Eisley, and similar female-led bandsAt a glance … not nearly as magic or transcendent as Sixpence's post-indie output, the My Dear Machine EP is merely an adequate in-between placeholder until the group's next full-length projectTrack Listing My Dear Machine Amazing Grace (Give It Back) Sooner Than Later Around

The biggest comeback of the year is no doubt that of Sixpence None the Richer, the alternative pop powerhouse best known for the breakout single "Kiss Me." On top of critical acclaim across the board, the band had a dedicated following in Christian music, despite their reluctance to be lumped with mainline CCM bands. Ironically, the duo announced they were splitting up in a 2004 issue of CCM magazine, ending their missive with an inconclusive "Goodbye for now."

After some soul-searching, personal tribulations, and various musical excursions, members Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum decided to get back together and continue making Sixpence music "for the next 2,000 to 3,000 years." The My Dear Machine EP is the first fruit of that lifelong desire, but it isn't exactly the return one would hope: the melodies are glum, the ambiance a bit damp, and the wistfulness kept to a minimum.

It's unclear who wrote what, but the songs feel like b-sides—leftovers or throwaways from past (or future?) album sessions. Take the plaintive "Sooner Than Later," an alt-pop downer with a meandering melody that would've fit gingerly on Nash's solo debut.

Things pick up with the Springsteen-esque title track, a horn-drenched rocker that seems to be about the band's regret over breaking up prematurely. Nothing subpar about this stadium-sized number—it just feels a little underdeveloped, not as fleshed-out and delicate as their best material.

The only song that partially captures Sixpence's dreamy otherworldliness is the stark "Around," an almost celestial composition adorned with strings, guitars, and what sounds like a glockenspiel for a woeful, beautiful elegy that seems to describe the end of a relationship (perhaps Nash's divorce in 2007).

That leaves us with "Amazing Grace (Give It Back)," a plaintive prayer that sounds like a demo from the Divine Discontent era. It has a steady cadence which only adds gravity to the lyric, which is easily one of most overtly Christian the group has performed yet. And yet, in reference to God, Nash drops the line, "You're everywhere and every time/ Yet you're still so damn hard to find"—a natural, even biblical sentiment coming from someone pleading for grace, but one that is sure to raise eyebrows.

Then again, this is Sixpence we're talking about. Given its viral, pay-what-you-want release through, this four-track EP is less likely targeted towards evangelicals than it is to those who have grown alongside the band since its humble beginnings on the R.E.X. label through its maligned years at Squint and Word. Even if My Dear Machine EP doesn't quite capture the magic that has long defined this group, it's an apt in-between treat for longtime fans as they wait for the group's next move.

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