Review Summary: Carissa’s Wierd in their most playful manner.
One year after the release of their debut album, CW have come back with the follow-up and first album to be recorded in a customary phasing. For their predecessor was a mishmash of songs since the band saw the light of day, yet not a compilation album.
Carissa’s Wierd have been dark and cynical most of the time during their career, their music has been simple with each member playing a packet of notes. Still, the music is layered and executed on a very mature level. Never will a track be unnecessary forced up, nor will a single vocal line or lyric be blunt. They know exactly how to pull the strings of your emotions with music that holds a long-lasting value .
It’s probably this sense of proportion that makes a band commonly mentioned in the same breath as the emo music scene – one short look at the similar artists section on last.fm tells enough- be loved along a wide part of the diverse musical spectrum. From black metal fans to indie pop fans, the band certainly have found themselves in an extraordinary spot. A spot that is theirs and theirs only, whether or not by accident. So is this offspring to their credit?
At first glance the artwork is kind of morbid with a dash of irony which sets the mood for the music itself. And the song titles are absurdly long as are some of the songs.
On the opener ‘Brooke Daniels’ Tiny Broken Fingers’ we hear a perfect example of why a song doesn’t need a heavy bass line or fast guitar work to create tempo. The instruments play catch-up with one another and Mat Brooke sings over the flow. It’s almost as if he – dare I say it – raps.
It’s quite an unusual opener for them, but as the album progresses we get more of that typical sound with slow build-ups and hushed vocals. Though there are yet a few surprises to come.
Consequently there are the almost completely instrumental tracks ‘Halfway Spoken Heart…’ and ‘Fear Not My Friend…’, a wonderful piano ballad. ‘A Loose Hair…’ features CW in an awkward uplifting style with even hand claps. They did pull it off though, but it feels out of place with the rest of the album.
The only other song that takes the pressure off having a black sheep is ‘All Apologies And Smiles…’, a break-up song played in an analogous fast tempo.
The most characteristic songs are ‘Blessed Arms That Hold you Tight…’ and the achingly beautiful ‘The Color That Your Eyes Changed…’, for a change these do not feel bleak, through bittersweet memories of lost love there are sparks of hope. And for once vocals are not kept down to a minimum, seldom heard with this band albeit only in specific parts. It’s refreshing, but not necessarily an improvement.
I’ve never been perfect
Forgive me my summary of song titles, but the fact is that the album actually feels as a collection of beautiful songs without the junctions that would’ve added the indispensable coherence to become a masterpiece. This feels, breathes and sounds as Carissa’s Wierd in every possible way but an excess of mood swings holds it back. A shortage of vision one could say, the vision that is nonetheless so clear and soaked in the albums ‘Ugly But Honest’ and ‘Songs About Leaving.
So objectively speaking I couldn’t bring myself to seize for the 4,5 of 5 star ratings. The closing songs even further prove my point: the penultimate track, that is accompanied with a drone, is highly intimate, gracious and – for the persons who are interested- reveals the meaning behind the band name’s peculiar spelling .
However, for a baffling reason they let the drone drag for 5 minutes after the song is finished.
A mistake even the closer can’t totally rectify…
On the other hand, when looking at the songs separately, here as well are some gems that yet again underline how exquisite this band really is. They have a grasp of using metaphors, arranging build-ups, dynamics while leaving a huge emotional impact chiseled in your brain. Yet they maintain their trademark: they are relatively…quiet. They’re in a league of their own and one that has, to this day, no clearly outlined competitors.