Review Summary: Depressing music
Listening to Codeine’s “Frigid Stars” is a draining experience. Upon first listen it’s difficult to sit through just because the music is so bleak, gloomy, and absent of any optimism. While other acts tagged as “sadcore” such as Low, Arab Strap, and Red House Painters are more or less led by one songwriter, Codeine have a more rock oriented sound involving every member of the band. Containing ten songs that span just over forty minutes in length, “Frigid Stars” is an album that sucks the listener in and hypnotizes him until the very end. Although Codeine are a bit bland compared to other slowcore acts “Frigid Stars” is a pioneering album that really helped the genre garner some acclaim.
One aspect that really ads onto the nocturnal atmosphere of “Frigid Stars” would be the production. Slow burners such as “Old Things” and “Gravel Bed” sound so powerful due to the ghostly guitar scales and heavy drum hits. Stephen Immerwahr’s bright, almost helpless vocals ad onto the bleak and desolate feel that the music creates. A couple of songs off of “Frigid Stars” even show hints of post-rock; “Pickup Song” and “New Year’s” shift from lazy guitar noodling into dense, spacey rock sessions. Mixing together flawlessly with the depressing music, Immerwahr’s lyrics posses such a haunting and isolated vibe. “Cave In” is a perfect example containing lines such as “Last night I dreamt your face/the skin was falling of/the flesh was turning grey
Since “Frigid Stars” has such a lonesome and baron sound it can be a very demanding listen. While the raw production makes the music so depressing, I can also see the production conflicting with other listeners. Codeine have such a deserted, dreary sound making it difficult to listen to “Frigid Stars” in one sitting. Towards the end of the album I start to lose interest just because every song essentially repeats the same formula and production techniques.
On the contrary to what I just stated, “Frigid Stars” is a great listen for those interested in melancholy, isolated albums. When listening to Codeine there isn’t anything that really impresses me musically, yet the album has a fairly powerful feel. In short, “Frigid Stars” may not be as musically invoking as something released by Low, or Red House Painters, but it’s still an excellent listen for anyone interested in the “slowcore” movement.