Yvonne Cornelius (aka Niobe) has been creating her skewed pop music for several years now, and White Hats is her newest entry, finding her reaching even more assured heights (pun intended) with a concept album about time spent among the Alps. She keeps things lively by jumping between styles often, but the focus is on her vocals, which are often filtered in odd ways, sometimes adding something off kilter and delightful to a song, while at other times distracting.
Album opener "Give All To Love" is one of the standouts, starting out with some quiet vibes before lurching forward into a track that sounds like a mainstream top 40 R&B track turned on its ear with all kinds of weird multi-tracked vocal layers. It's kind of eerie, but super effective compared to the sterility of most R&B, but Cornelius lets the filtering get the best of her on the very next track "Well And Wise," as spare instrumentation is fronted by odd pitch-bent passages of voice and neither the vocals or music develops into anything.
In a couple places, Cornelius strips things back a bit and the resulting tracks are some of the best tracks on the album. "Surround Your Hover" is a collaboration with Weschel Garland (who showed he knows a little something about tropical electronic pop on Easy) that works a Brazilian feel with a shuffling beat, acoustic guitar, and some nice harmonized vocals, while "The Hills" and "In The Sun" strip things back to only acoustic guitar and finds her creating a warm, lovely tracks that reminds one of Feist at her best with jazzy vocal stylings and deft instrumental touch. Outstanding in places and downright frustrating in others, White Hats definitely has its moments, but ends up feeling a bit haphazard as well.