Laura Stevenson
Wheel


5.0
classic

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
April 4th, 2013 | 3096 replies


Release Date: 04/23/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No one is ever gonna take my life from me; I lay it down, a ghost is born.

The first time I saw the cover of Wheel, I thought it was a simple “four seasons” type picture, with a spring, summer, autumn, and winter tree spaced evenly on a circle. It took me a long time to look at it more closely, but when I did I realized the obvious: there are six trees. But more than that, there are six iterations of the same tree, or at least that’s how I interpret it. This tree is the branching possibility of life; there is the seed, and then there is the pine or the palm or the dogwood. At what random point in that process did the seed become the seed? However random it might seem, though, there is still a harmony to it: this tree and its counterparts are of the same circle.

When you listen to Wheel, you’re listening to something that turns over as it stays in the same place.

That is by no means an indictment. What I mean to say is that layers are added with each passing song, and doubly so with each passing play of the album. I hear Wheel slightly differently every time I listen to it, but what stays the same is the overarching feeling that there is some ungraspable quality to it, something indefinable in the way these songs come together, as if multiple worlds are eclipsing each other while remaining individually visible. It is as if the moment at the end of “The Wait,” where the last word of the song is buried in noise and unheard, has been extrapolated into an entire album of interstitial stabs and flashes. These songs have lives of their own, and there are parallels running alongside them that occasionally break through. “Renee” is an achingly gorgeous folk song with sunrise-over-the-hills strings and accordion until halfway through when distortion and drums crash unexpectedly. It’s still the same song, but different.

“The Wheel” seems to start and then start over several times in the first few minutes, and when Laura’s voice grows in volume at the end and the horns swell, it is like all of those false starts have reached their conclusion at the same time, their combined effulgence making everything, as Laura wanted, more real. And “Every Tense” feels like a different version of “The Wheel,” taken down a different path to an entirely unique endpoint. It burns more slowly, violins in place of horns, but it is also about shoring up feelings to make them seem warranted and about the endless spinning that builds human relationships. The two songs are opposite sides of the same room; each has unique textures but still extends to a point where they both meet.

But at the center of Wheel are the everyday things that keep us firmly planted in this world. Whatever thematic significance can be ascribed to this record, it is more important to note that these songs realize that without the boring tethers of existence, there can’t be thematic significance. What is love without the little things that make up the memory of love (as Laura sings, “it’s dirty laundry, it’s empty Styrofoam”)? Without them, there are only feelings without anchors, an aching attached to nothing. And I would like to think that the immaculate, ethereal fragments of backing vocals present in “Telluride,” “L-DOPA,” and "Runner" were not meant to be heard, that maybe they are remnants of something private and painful but too strongly felt to stay hidden away.

Maybe you won’t get the same impressions from Wheel. Albums certainly mean different things to different people, but beyond that, if you take personal taste into account on a broad level and the different ways people process input on a much more specific level, then it might not be that far-fetched to say that when two people listen to the same album, they hear different things. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but sometimes an album is so good that I want everyone to hear exactly what I hear when I listen to it. And when I listen to Wheel, what I hear is the struggle of a person cobbling together the different versions of herself to try to be better; I hear worlds turning over.



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user ratings (407)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
puertasmagicas (5)
We are the symbols we choose....

OmNomsky (5)
It's dirty laundry, it's empty styrofoam....

A J M H CONTRIBUTOR (5)
stop worrying, worrisome love...


Comments:Add a Comment 
fish.
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2013


22034 Comments


Still need to listen to sit resist

Digging: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

robin
Emeritus
April 4th 2013


4259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review Summary: No one is ever gonna take away my life from me; I lay it down, a ghost is born.

EaglesBecomeVultures
April 4th 2013


5269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow

Digging: Dean Blunt - Black Metal

toxin.
April 4th 2013


12777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

fuck yeah i'm excited to listen to this.
also excellent review, chan. didn't think your paramore review was all that great so this is a very nice return to form

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2013


22034 Comments


You kidding

The paramore review ruled

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 4th 2013


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

this review is similar to adam downers review of farrah abraham maybe theyre the same review in a different version

CaptainHadouken
April 4th 2013


1960 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Heard a few tracks, gotta dig through the albums and then listen to this.

Ignimbrite
April 4th 2013


5464 Comments


http://moaropeth.tumblr.com/image/27407619809

Digging: Downfall of Gaia - Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 4th 2013


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Two things: a.) first paragraph is unnecessary, and b.) holy cow fanboy much ahahaha.

But good read Chan. Looking forward to getting this when it drops.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2013


50872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I want

Digging: Bobby Barnett - Little Wounds

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
April 4th 2013


15070 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

lol

toxin.
April 4th 2013


12777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

no fish, it read to me as messy and unfocused. like he expanded on a rough thesis of what he wanted to write, and called it a review.

i really enjoyed the last paragraph of this one.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 4th 2013


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

this is a better anti review than alex beebes justin timberlake one

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2013


22034 Comments


It read like it was physically frustrated and sick of the music and that tone fitted it perfectly

CaptainHadouken
April 4th 2013


1960 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well listening to A record + 3 now, and have resist in the line up. Wow, i was missing out.

InfamousGrouse
April 4th 2013


3570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yes, yes you were

chambered99
April 4th 2013


818 Comments


review sucks album's overrated cuz all you virgins love boobs

CaptainHadouken
April 4th 2013


1960 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah I dig Record + 3 so far, its really somber and her voice is very wow. I think i was half asleep the first listen a while back with this. Its really good though.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
April 4th 2013


10622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The new songs she played a few weeks ago were amazing. I cannot wait to hear this.

tommygun
April 4th 2013


25140 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

and here

we

go

Digging: Banks - Goddess



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