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Album Review

Imogen Heap, 'Ellipse'

August 24, 2009

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POP
Imogen Heap Ellipse
Sony BMG
ESSENTIAL “Earth’’

When a copy of Imogen Heap’s third solo album leaked onto eBay, furious fans protested by bidding the item up to a site-record $20 million. A hefty price tag, to be sure, but “Ellipse’’ at the very least proves worthy of your $9.99 on iTunes. The follow-up to the former Frou Frou frontwoman’s 2005 release, “Speak for Yourself,’’ features more immaculately produced, harmony-drenched electro-pop, from the pulsing single “First Train Home’’ to the kinetic two-step of “Swoon.’’ The overwhelming success of the a cappella “Hide and Seek’’ has not been lost on Heap, who seamlessly loops her voice on tracks like the effervescent “Earth.’’ The album is saddled with the occasional bombastic number: The strings-drenched “2-1’’ finds Heap intoning melodramatically about “pinning all your hopes on the top dog of dreams.’’ Mostly, though, “Ellipse’’ delivers an inventive yet intimate batch of laptop-pop gems. Even when Heap abandons the Pro Tools, as on the delicate piano ballad “Half Life,’’ she displays an impeccable ear for gorgeous melodies and elegant arrangements. Ellipses usually signify that there’s more to come; “Ellipse’’ simply confirms that Heap has arrived. (Out tomorrow) -- ADAM CONNER-SIMONS