by Alisha's Attic, pop (1998)
Mercury/Polygram, £9.98, ASIN B000026Q4A

The delightful Poole sister's followup to their brilliant and catty debut Alisha Rules The World may have underperformed in terms of sales, but Illumina is a more polished effort that retains much of the wicked humor that makes these girls fun.

From ballads like The Incidentals, Going Down, and the moving Air & Angels to groovy upbeat tracks like Wish I Were You, these girls still find time to sharpen their nails to scratch out the eyes of a few bad ex-boyfriends. Indeed, lyrics is always one of Alisha's Attic strongest points.

In Wish I Were You, they profess hatred at a beautiful, glamorous, and adored by millions woman even while sulkily wishing I wish I were you, I wish I could think from your brains. The tables are turned in Are You Jealous?, sure a paean to ex-boyfriends everywhere with its gloves-off cattiness. Barbarella is a frantic piece about high life, and Dive In is a brilliant gem about the mysterious allure of feminity (check out Shellie's orgasmic ahs in the background).

They claim to be schizophrenic chicks in Air & Angels, alternatively adoring the weird pesky creatures called men and making punching bags out of them. It's fun - it's like reading Daria's journal with Bart Simpson's nasty wit thrown in.

This album lacks the wistful gems like Air We Breathe or the catchy lunapop of I Am, I Feel in their debut album, but it manages to capture the ups and downs of relationships with two doses of quirkiness and five doses of kookiness. A soundtrack for those with a sense of humor, and it is great to the ears. Now that's greatness.

Rating: 84

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