A Fine Frenzy singer Alison Sudol talks songwriting, books and growing up

Alison Sudol laughs with delight when it’s suggested that “Bomb in a Birdcage” (Virgin), the new album by her band A Fine Frenzy, is more muscular than its predecessor.

“I just imagine a really big dude in a tank top with big arms,” she says by phone from home in Los Angeles.

Sort of, yeah. A Fine Frenzy’s 2007 debut, “One Cell in the Sea,” was an elegant and restrained pop collection with a wistful, reflective air — perfect for the various TV moments some of the songs accompanied. By contrast, “Bomb in a Birdcage” finds Sudol, 24, showing off a more upbeat, energetic side on songs with bolder arrangements and a brasher sound.

“I think it’s stronger, maybe. I think I’m stronger,” Sudol says. “Growing up has a lot to do with that. In the time between making ‘One Cell’ and making ‘Bomb in a Birdcage,’ we got to tour all over the place, tour with some incredible bands and see the world. I had a lot of responsibility and had a lot of new responsibility put on my shoulders as well.”

Three more facts about A Fine Frenzy:

FACT: Sudol was 11 when she decided she wanted to be a singer, and 19 when she wanted to also be a songwriter. Then she had to learn how to write songs. “The ones at the beginning didn’t even sound like songs,” she says. “I don’t know what they were. I remember taping something I was working on, and when I listened back, I was like, what is this? It was just this indistinguishable, wandering poem.”

FACT: She learned the craft so well that by the time she was 22, she was signed to Virgin and licensing songs fron “One Cell in the Sea” to the shows “House,” “One Tree Hill” and “The Hills,” among others. So how has TV affected her career? “It was huge,” she says. “There are so many bands out there, it’s insane, and anything you can do to get people to hear your music and distinguish yourself from the crowd is invaluable.”

FACT: When she’s not writing songs, she’s writing books. Sudol has already finished a children’s fairytale in the vein of C.S. Lewis or Lewis Carroll, and is working on a second book. Writing prose, she says, complements her songwriting. “The two go hand in hand. It’s all storytelling, really,” she says. “Writing the book taught me how to use my imagination and to let myself run with it, and the songwriting teaches me to be more pithy.”

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Blow Away mp3

(Photo by Cass Bird)

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