Review Summary: Merry Xmas.
Christmas is coming early this year.
This is because Julie Christmas, enigmatic (and oh so female) vocalist for both Made Out of Babies
and the defunct Battle of Mice
is releasing her first solo album, entitled The Bad Wife
Though she's always been characteristically schizoid, Julie spreads her wings even further when she goes solo. Working with members from labelmates Spylacopa
gradually strays away from the hardcore punk stylings of Made Out of Babies and even further from the Neurosis
-worship of Battle of Mice, Julie smooths down her rough edges into creepy sludge lite. Her versatility is outstanding as she slips easily from an oily cover of pop standard "If You Go Away" to the droning and bass-heavy "Six Pairs of Feet and One Pair of Legs". Tracks like "Secrets All Men Keep (Salt Bridge Part II)" and electronica-laden "I Just Destroyed the World" can even be called ballads. Julie's voice transitions from her trademark whispery singing to lengthy yells to littl-girl whining and back again, often within a single track. It's eerie how this album floats so easily from alt rock to funk metal to sludge and back.
Eerie is actually a perfect word to describe The Bad Wife
, and Julie Christmas in general. Every one of the nine tracks puts you on edge. Something about Julie's anthropomorphic voice, accompanied by everything from accordion ("A Wigmaker's Widow") to droning sludge metal, creates a sonic tension taut enough to be plucked like a sitar string. It's not exactly disgusting nails-on-chalkboard cacophony, but it'll definitely raise some neck hairs.
Yes, Julie's a little cuckoo, and this album is definitely lighter than her previous work, but she can still throw punches with the big boys. The Bad Wife
has its heavy points, quite adequately heavy indeed. However, it's less of a Cryptopsy
heavy and more of a Sunn O)))
heavy. In case this comparison is unclear, the heavy present on this album is more a certain thickness, a weight, as opposed to machine-gun drop-D riffage. Plus, the jagged melodies present create wonderful contrast, proving that our J.C. is comfortable vocalizing every which way.
So a hearty, distorted "Merry Christmas" to all.
And hey, there's cake.