A year after being dropped from Columbia Records, Boston's Talking To Animals has finally released their debut recording on Velvel -- and the wait was worth it. "Manhole" delivers 11 guitar-driven tunes ranging from mid-tempo ballads to all-out rockers that sound like the Pretenders if they weren't mired in middle age.
No new musical ground is broken by the melodic, jumpy, Seattle-sounding riffs, but the band is tight and the experience gained from playing together for 10 years shows on songs like "Turning Into Beautiful." The real treat is the singing of frontwoman Juliana Nash, whose voice is a husky, powerful tour de force. Her range and depth are showcased on songs like "Everlasting Ache," "Tomorrow Everyday" and "Breathe," all of which have mainstream hit potential. Makes you wonder what Columbia was thinking.