Left Of The Middle – Natalie Imbruglia


1997 – RCA

Pop/ Rock

Australian pop singer Natalie Imbruglia’s debut album Left Of The Middle is an interesting experiment in how far one can push the blurry boundaries between acceptable rock expression and pure pop commercialism. It starts out with the instantly recognizable Torn which, despite its being much overplayed when it first came out and its tendency to become extremely irritating after about three listens, is actually a rather decent song with a catchy melody and a sensible rock base.

But, after listening to the whole record, one finds that Torn really isn’t the highlight track or even a particularly good indication of where Imbruglia’s talents lie. Tracks like Big Mistake and Don’t You Think showcase her ability at Garbage style rock and roll power and Leave Me Alone creates a seductive trip-hop atmosphere that is really quite intoxicating and slightly reminiscent of groups like Portishead.

As one might expect, however, Torn is not just an atypical single tacked onto the front of the album. Have no doubt that Left Of The Middle has its fair share of straight up pop tunes veiled thinly behind a transparent curtain of electric guitar. But this is not to say that those tracks are particularly bad, in fact Wishing I Was There  and City are rather beautifully constructed to be that perfect balance between accessibility and originality.

I must say that I was actually rather sceptical coming into this album, mainly due to the fact that I was so underwhelmed with Torn, but I was pleasantly surprised by the really quite intelligent mixture of styles found on this record and the skill with which they are approached. There is a fair amount of throwaway stuff on here, but there is also an equal amount of tracks that the listener can really sink their teeth into and have great time coming to grips with. I can’t, in all honesty, say that there is anything groundbreaking or mind-shattering about Left Of The Middle, but I can say that it is actually a great deal better than one may expect with its clever mixture of post-grunge noise, trip-hop trances, folk intuition, and straight up pop sensibilities

I’m not saying that anyone really needs to rush out and buy themselves a copy of this album, but I would recommend that if you were like me and dismissed it out of hand right at the beginning you should go back and give it a second chance, because you too might have the same level of surprised enjoyment as I have had with it.

RATING: ***/5

One the stand-out tracks from the 1997 album ‘Left Of The Middle’

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One thought on “Left Of The Middle – Natalie Imbruglia

  1. Pingback: Wishing I Was There – Natalie Imbruglia (1998) | Amusement and Music

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