Sixpence None The Richer

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Sixpence None The Richer

Divine Discontent (Squint/Curb/Reprise)

Sixpence None the Richer first appeared amid the Cardigans-Sundays-Mazzy Star spate of lush, Nineties pop-rock bands featuring breathy girl singers. The San Marcos-based band's appeal came courtesy of lead singer Leigh Nash, whose doll-like sweetness fit her fey vocals. That said, it was Matt Slocum who was responsible for their chart-topper "Kiss Me," and it's his songwriting that defines their well-crafted jangle-pop. That's what kept Sixpence None the Richer afloat despite personnel shuffles and label juggling. The group's first recording since their eponymous label debut five years ago, Divine Discontent, is 13 expressions of wistful, thoughtful, and heartfelt love. Already, Slocum's "Breathe Your Name" is securely on the Billboard Top 40, with a number of radio-friendly cuts ("Paralyzed," "Waiting on the Sun") ready to follow. Yet even with Slocum's songwriting talent, the band isn't above tapping a good cover. Their second hit was the La's masterwork "There She Goes," and this time they've chosen Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over," another chart candidate. What sets Sixpence None the Richer apart from their Nineties peers is faith. Like Houstonians King's X, Sixpence is subtle about their Christian beliefs, artfully layering message songs like "Melody of You" and "Dizzy" between the album's more innocuous tracks. This deftness has spared them from the career-killing "Christian band" label. If "Kiss Me" was their entrée to the top, Divine Discontent is the perfect sophomore effort, even if it's way overdue.

*** .5

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