Xania Keane, known simply as Xania, is a Montreal hip hop, electro dance artist who has previously garnered some acclaim as part of the duo Trike. All Alone Together is her second release as a solo artist.
The album gets off to a strong start with “Take You Back” and “Dance With A Robot.” These songs show off her stronger assets: her quick delivery of quirky and well written lyrics, as well as some catchy beats and melodies. She continues to employ those assets on “Y.O.U,” a song with a heavy synth beat and slower tempo, which is one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Since Xania’s style is more hip-hop or spoken word, her vocal demonstrations on this album are extremely limited. That being said, she has a charm to her delivery that makes up for some of her shortcomings. As the title suggests, “I’m Broke” is an ode to living paycheck to paycheck with a vocal melody that borrows a little bit from Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here,” but Xania’s vocal style is so monotonous and stiff that it kills the lighthearted lyrical content right off the bat. Her serious, heavy-handed approach works better on a track like “Gotham City,” where the music and lyrics mesh well to create a haunting, electro-soaked horror movie atmosphere.
Xania has trouble constructing an actual hook or a real sense of melody that does not simply rely on a repeating beat, lyric, or production filler. The music is very linear and does not progess within the songs, which are mostly built around a repeating musical figure with sounds layered onto it. For example, “Madly (interlude )” starts with a cool vocal hook, but quickly devolves into an empty beat with Xania delivering her vocals in a whisper that sounds forced. The same goes for the actual production of the beats and melodies; they don’t seem to be in any way related to the lyrics, and sometimes seem like a bunch of effects stacked onto one another only because they sound good, or to try to make it seem original. I can understand an artist trying to express something using unconventional methods, but originality for its own sake does not guarantee good results.
The rest of the album follows the same formula of stern, almost spoken-word vocals over trippy, futuristic sounding beats without any real climax to the music and an unfortunate lack of direction. Xania, intentionally or not, chose to stray away from the more pop-oriented sound that her music could have, perhaps as a form of artistic expression. The end result is that the music lacks a meaningful quality and is, for my taste, too tedious to have any fun with it.
Reviewed by Ben Massicotte
*edited by Kate Erickson