Marissa Nadler
Strangers


4.5
superb

Review

by jeremologyy USER (42 Reviews)
May 13th, 2016 | 47 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: apocalypse now

On her last LP, 2014’s exquisite July, Boston-based Marissa Nadler spun striking, raw songs that relayed a graphic account of a relationship gone awry. It tracked, more-or-less, the year after the break, and traveled through anger, shock, dismay, loneliness, and pride, and not necessarily in that order. It was Nadler’s best record yet, with dense, thick production courtesy of usual-metalhead Randall Dunn, which may seem like an odd way to describe a mostly acoustic album that sounded like a sleepy, sad watercolor. But it is also an appropriate marriage of two worlds: Nadler’s songs have an emotional intensity and an approach to lyricism that meshes well with Dunn’s usual curriculum vitae, and it really peaked on July.

Well, here comes Strangers, Nadler’s 7th full-length album (or 8th if you count the mini-album The Sister). It may come as a surprise to fans of her last record (re: me), that in more ways than one, Strangers is superior to its predecessor. Here, Nadler finds herself at a more content place romantically, and so she turns her dark, emotional gaze elsewhere: namely, the end of the world, and all the bleakness, confusion, and desolation that comes along with such a heady topic.

Beginning with the sole piano track, “Divers of the Dust” starts the album off on a very appropriate foot. Lyrically, it gives us a perplexed, eerily calm and almost random account of things beginning to fall apart. It feels almost Dadaist in its impressionistic quality. There really aren’t too many other spots on the album that feel so unstable, even if it is one of the quietest songs here. “Katie I Know,” one of Nadler’s best songs yet, follows with a tale of a friend who does not seem so familiar anymore. It’s terrifying in its gentle acknowledgment of how time and crisis can change even the ones we hold most dear.

This album covers a lot of ground, both lyrically and musically It is quite possibly Nadler’s beefiest record to date, with arrangements full of electric guitar licks, distortion wails, pedal steel, strings, and even more drums than usual. Randall Dunn returns as producer and it feels like an even better fit this time around. The wall of fuzz that slowly encroaches on the depression anthem “Hungry is the Ghost” feels practically groundbreaking, as does the enormous burst of electric guitar in first single, “Janie in Love,” which tells a startling story likening a friend careening recklessly in love to a terrible storm. The title track is a marvelous, sinister concoction, which, thanks to its searing guitar and crying pedal steel, can only be described as “doom country.” (Can we make that a thing?)

This may be an album about the end of the world, but it does not fixate so doggedly on that as to come up short on ideas or become tedious. “All The Colors of the Dark,” by far the brightest melody here, has a gently buoyant rhythm to it that makes it stick out from its gloomier brethren. “Shadow Show Diane,” one of the weirdest songs Nadler has ever penned, details a woman secretly watching another woman through her window. That all being said, there are some good old apocalypse songs as well, most notably “Nothing Feels the Same,” which tells the heartbreaking story of someone going back to where their house used to be, only unable to actually find it, thanks to the utter desolation.

This is a bleak album, but it might also be Nadler’s strongest. Its lyrics cover topics that feel new for her, and her singing (and harmony skills) and guitar playing only gets better with each release. It might not pack the upfront emotional punch of July, but it makes up for it in spades. As the beautiful “Dissolve” closes out the record with someone floating away at the very bitter end of life on earth, Nadler sings, “I’m just another body in this town.” But make no mistake: Nadler is not just another musician. She’s the real deal, and this album is ample proof.

Final rating: 9.1
Key tracks: Katie I Know, Hungry is the Ghost, All the Colors of the Dark, Strangers, Janie In Love



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user ratings (106)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
jeremologyy
May 13th 2016


294 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Stream the album a week ahead of its release here:



https://t.co/VVCOacz7PO

Shadow93
May 14th 2016


10 Comments


I liked July very much, I really want to listen to this. I enjoy this darker approach since her signing to Sacred Bones.

InfamousGrouse
May 14th 2016


4378 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

looking forward to spinning this

Travelhead
May 16th 2016


74 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The review is written so well. She has a new sound with this record, more gazing, less acoustic sound. I like it actually. Skyscraper is my favorite from the album.

Frippertronics
Emeritus
May 16th 2016


19513 Comments


I still gotta check July fuk

elcrawfodor
May 17th 2016


1267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this finally out? I've been jamming Janie in Love for months now

wtferrothorn
May 17th 2016


5849 Comments


It's streaming early, check the 1st comment

brandontaylor
May 19th 2016


1227 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this sounded really cool on first listen, sorta like chelsea wolfe meets sharon van etten. ended up being a bit underwhelming, but i'm still gonna revisit it a fair few times.

InfamousGrouse
May 23rd 2016


4378 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the sparse beauty of July was captivating but this is a solid record in its own right





Underflow
July 1st 2016


5297 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is really good. Gonna see her live when she stops by this month.

brainmelter
July 4th 2016


8241 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

cute af

elcrawfodor
July 5th 2016


1267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Her cover of Solitude might be the highlight

Sniff
September 9th 2016


7937 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

OMG?



https://marissanadler.bandcamp.com/album/bury-your-name

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2016


31792 Comments


Just listened to the "Bury Your Name" EP. It was damn fine.

JS19
December 6th 2016


7777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This girl so shy on stage but also damn

brandontaylor
December 9th 2016


1227 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

bury your name EP was an improvement over this imo. her voice suits simple folk arrangements more than the lush production on here.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
December 30th 2016


31792 Comments


This gets better with every listen. Love the production. Also, excellent review Jeremy, hard pos'd.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


47482 Comments


this is cool but kind of a letdown after July tbh

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


31792 Comments


I prefer the direction she takes on her EP. Haven't jammed July yet.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


47482 Comments


haven't heard the EP yet, July is some of the best raw acoustic stuff you'll hear this side of elliott smith



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