The debut recording by the all-girl group 4.elements proves several things at once: They can sing in Latvian. They can sing in English. They can take a Latvian folk song and put it to a Eurodance techno beat. And they can overdo it.
Staring at the cover of the compact disc, you really want to like these girls, named Erita Karlsone, Līga Ozola, Zane Ozola and Rūta Reinika. They’re cute, after all. And they’re not without talent and musical pedigree, as their thank-yous in the liner notes—as well as their voices—make clear. Unfortunately, this recording does little to really show what they can do.
The group was formed in 2001. Although the girls have been active in various musical productions for several years, they perhaps became best known in Latvia as finalists in the national Eurovision competition with the Arnis Mednis and Lauris Reiniks song, “Remember.” Mednis is a well-known pop and blues artist; Reiniks is a relative newcomer whose popularity has grown quickly and whose sister is among 4.elements members. Although they didn’t advance to the international contest won by Latvia’s Marija Naumova, 4.elements were in good company and certainly made their mark.
But I doubt we’ll ever see another album by them, at least not as 4.elements. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but the era of boy bands and girl bands can’t last much longer.
Kļudu labojums is in a way two different CDs. The first four tracks, two in English and two in Latvian, are pop songs. And the first two, “Remember” and “Kļudu labojums,” are catchy.
The second part of the album, seven of the 11 tracks, is a series of well-known Latvian folk songs put to a techno beat by Mednis. They’re referred to on the album cover as “digitālas dainas” (digital dainas). I’m glad to see that folk songs live on in different genres, but this is really nothing new. The first song, “Laivinieka meita biju,” is actually rather fun. I could imagine this being played as a workout song. It’s got repetition and movement in it, with a number of “Hei!” yelps for those high kicks.
But tracks six through 11, including a “digital” version of the beautiful “Kas tie tādi, kas dziedāja,” wear on the listener. There’s only so much techno-folk one can take. Of course, this kind of music is meant to be moved to, not listened to intently.
If nothing else, Kļūdu labojums has given the four singers some exposure. Now let’s see what they can really do.
Platforma Records, 2002
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