Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton : Knives Don't Have Your Back

Emily Haines is a Broken Social Scene-ster, and the daughter of a noted jazz poet (I learn). Her debut album, four years in the making, is an absolute joy, although that word has a positivity that's out of place when discussing Knives; it's pretty crushingly bleak in places.

The song that really struck is the first single, Dr Blind.

If the dizzying highs
Don't subside
Dr Blind
Just prescribe
The red ones

The song is built around a kind of monumental piano (similar to Massive Attack's False Flags) and has the funereal pace of Radiohead's Exit Music, and something of that song's tightly enfolded structure and atmospheres - distant guitars, tugging strings, feedback.

Crowd Surf Off A Cliff has a repeated refrain of "I wake up lonely", followed by "Rather give the world away/Than wake up lonely". But the naked emotionalism of the album nevers seems un-earned, and that's partly because her voice is beautifully plain, allowing the lyrics to do the work, and partly because there's an atmosphere of defeated menace to the best songs ('With all the luck you've had/Why are your songs so sad?').

Which is all very annoying because it seems I should be listening to Joanna Newsom's Ys, if the feverish chatter across the interweb is anything to go by. Next time.

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