Julien Baker
Sprained Ankle


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
September 6th, 2017 | 206 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Julien Baker.

I feel empty, and yet I always return to your hymns of bitterness and desperation.

You seem to define the phrase “brilliance in simplicity,” as your sparse acoustic arrangements fill the air with an atmosphere of bleak, brutal honesty. Wispy, yet heavy. Dark, yet easily accessible. There’s something paradoxical in your tone, as hopeful melodies are beaten down by the self-deprecation and realism in your lyrical vulnerability. You’re inspired by God, and your pieces cut through bullshit and excessive drama. Sprained Ankle is a universal experience, there for anyone to relate to in their darkest and most troubled moments. Your works are not abrasive or overbearing in the slightest, resorting to instrumental minimalism to get each message across; yet you are not shallow. Each lyrical wound runs deep as it dances on guitar strings swathed in reverb, building intimate experiences both draining and sobering. This is fucking real.

You are Julien Baker, pure and distilled.

Julien Baker is fucking real. I’m not trying to claim I know her personally, but in her solemn reflections of everyday life and faith, I can’t interpret Sprained Ankle as anything other than the real artist behind the music. The smoke and mirrors aren’t there, and no overproduction masks Baker’s simultaneous flaws and impact. Just listen to the ending of “Rejoice” for the full extent of this, as the singer-songwriter stretches her voice beyond her normal limits for one of the most deeply emotional climaxes in recent memory. Her guitar playing is almost shockingly simple at times, but it’s overwhelmingly soulful and earnest; the dreamlike echoes of each ringing melody and chord simply add another layer of meaning. The artist really seems to tap into something that I’m sure many of us have experienced: crisis. Crises are discussed in detail, ones of death, drug abuse, faith, and depression. Each song presents itself as another in a laundry list of conflicts that Baker chooses to face head-on, each in different musical contexts. And yet, regardless of how much she decides to spill her guts on each tricky topic, there’s an atmosphere of perseverance that always remains in Sprained Ankle. I’m not sure if it’s because there are some pretty cheery musical arrangements (most of the music being in major keys, no less) or because of Baker’s incredible level of passion and conviction, but there’s something intensely hopeful within the music. Maybe it’s in how relatable it all is. This is an amazing collection of songs for any of us who have wrestled with internal issues we’ve tried to eradicate for years. That may be faith, adjustment, drugs, or whatever you see it as. But one thing’s for sure: Julien Baker is sincere and knows the intense struggles that can come from being human.

I feel human, and I always return to her hymns of struggle and reality.



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user ratings (564)
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
BlushfulHippocrene STAFF (4.7)
Finding light in the darkness...

NoSons (4)
I'm only screaming at myself in public....

MyLoveOfMusic96 (5)
"I wish I could write songs about anything other than death."...

nonamereviewer (4)
The steps to being a better person and the stories of disappointing yourself along the way......



Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm not sure how I even feel about this review, but all I know is that it came straight from my gut

Slex
September 6th 2017


16507 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This needed a good 5 review, bless you

Love this review, pos'd

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


18852 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this has a 4 average now!!!

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


4052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

I disagree quite a bit, but fucking fantastic work, pal. So very beautifully written; I love hyperbole, and you do this album so much justice. ♥

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks guys. :] I'm really shocked that this finally became a 4/5... still deserves much more, imo

Trebor.
Emeritus
September 6th 2017


59810 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh FUKCKCCKCKKCKCKChere we gi

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yeeeeee

ramon.
September 6th 2017


4181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

dig the summary my dude

Trebor.
Emeritus
September 6th 2017


59810 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

idk to me, it's overly verbose and pedantic







Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

probably true

Trebor.
Emeritus
September 6th 2017


59810 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF-hq_CHNH0

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


10026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Lovely review, and I'm totally with you for the second para; it feels like a person beneath those stings and keys

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks :]

Mort.
September 6th 2017


25062 Comments


first paragraph is pretentious as fuck

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yup

Gyromania
September 6th 2017


37005 Comments


Yeah the review does come across as overly profound and cheesy, but it's pretty well worded and i love the angle you approached it from.

Conmaniac
September 6th 2017


27676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Each lyrical wound runs deep as it dances on guitar strings swathed in reverb, building intimate experiences both draining and sobering. This is fucking real.



You are Julien Baker, pure and distilled.



Julien Baker is fucking real."



woah...easy pos love the hyperbole in this review. blush already did a great analytical review of this so it's nice to see a slightly over the top one.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 7th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

:]

SonofSnow
September 14th 2017


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This record gives me goosebumps still.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 14th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, ''tis quite a beauty



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