Small Leaks Sink Ships
Golden Calf


4.5
superb

Review

by verdant CONTRIBUTOR (69 Reviews)
December 6th, 2017 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: bittersweet-tooth

It feels cheap to initiate this conversation by telling you Golden Calf gets by on an implacable quality – so I apologise with the entire weight of my heart – but, really, it does. Dancing Devil dissolves its own hook in a bath of reverb and indecision, yet still remains engaging, and Subtle Sadness is almost too subtle. The allure is there, it’s just that half the time I can’t tell where it’s coming from.

The structure here, too, feels like an afterthought until it doesn’t. Refrains are the only element keeping the record from slipping into a half-asleep set of promising ideas; the “don’t you blame it on me” in Psychotic Opera is a kind of chord progression in itself, like it was the first phrase written for the album and everything else is just a variation thereof – twisted and bent to meet a different hole in the wall.

These points - the bumps in the road, the sudden bursts of lucidity – stand out here more than any other record I’ve heard this year, or indeed in recent memory. I like the idea that every song here blooms from within a single motif (though some may be less immediately perceptible than others) because it undergirds the link between music and lyric. ”Help me help you” Judd Hancock sings in Creepin’ (an introduction that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Modest Mouse record; give me a Good News… or Lonesome Crowded West) and it feels like, somehow, the tumbling beat and stabbed synth progression is pulling the muse and the musician into the same space – a sort of kind and gentle magnetism locking things into a rhythm.

And when London Van Rooy murmurs “I see trouble” in Subtle Sadness, he means it. Washed-out backing vocals denote a sense of isolation – a centrepiece here, but used consistently elsewhere, and its these touches of intangibility that glow different hues depending on the songs they find themselves in.

Small Leaks…, to me, have always been about nostalgia, though it only ever creeps in underneath muted examinations of mental health and people trying to find stillness in chaos. There’s a wistfulness here – imbued accidentally somewhere between writing and being put to tape, and it shifts into focus while the patient waltz of the piano in Drug Lord, well…waltzes, or as the vocal samples in Creepin’ sing out like they don’t know the words they’re actually singing. But Hancock definitely does; hindsight to him isn’t so much a vessel for regret as it is a means of owning mistakes like they’re an integral part of his person – if he could retrace his steps, he’d look over his fuck-ups with a smile.

Tethered Wires – the final track – is both a recognition of what has been and a mantra for what will be. The refrain ”I’m better now” was, aptly, improvised in its original iteration. So the delivery grows more confident, comes in to its own, as the song progresses – like the music itself (courtesy of a jittery snare and a dance-y synth), and it reflects the sort of optimism found on the underside of a rock. The song is sweet in a way that makes me feel as though I’m watching a quiet but important moment happen from a distance, like witnessing someone see colour for the first time: here is a turning point retrospect will celebrate without reserve or melancholy.

Which, coincidentally, is how I listen to this album.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
verdant
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


1923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

psychotic opera is song of the year probably thanks

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


5472 Comments


Dancing Devil was pretty sweet off of this - I may check the rest out if I remember. Neat write-up; intangibility is always a bugger to write about, but you did it well :3
There's something kinda uncomfy about that album art.

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


1923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you're the best aaron

Papa Universe
December 6th 2017


8789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I shall listen to this then.

Digging: Gattopardo - Gattopardo

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


1923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

excellent news

ScuroFantasma
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


10931 Comments


This sounds like it's weird, gotta confirm that by giving it a spin tomorrow. Interesting write-up, cool to experiement with your writing like this and your engaging style made reading it breeze by, nice work Jack (: It does read a bit fragmented though due to how you've chopped up the paras.

Digging: Evilfeast - Elegies of the Stellar Wind

Papa Universe
December 6th 2017


8789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I suppose a second spin could reveal what I am missing here, but I enjoy it only on theoretical level. In that, I enjoy how off-the-wall it is, but I just doesn't do it for me. Might grow a little.

Papa Universe
December 6th 2017


8789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah, not doing it for me. sorry

LordePots
December 6th 2017


38570 Comments


worst band name of the year award for sure

Digging: Blondes - Warmth

zakalwe
December 6th 2017


23718 Comments


Definitely

Digging: Swarms - Black Chapel Sun

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


17100 Comments


Small Leaks More Absorbent Pad

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


20129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

aha you’re welcome for addin this to the db (after you recd it to me ofc). i know the album i’m gonna listen to today (:

BlushfulHippocrene
December 6th 2017


2067 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think what makes the album so affecting is how it attempts to resolve -- or at least elucidate -- these intangibilities in its climaxes. 'Tethered Wire' ends very abruptly, but is otherwise an incredibly apt closer in how its half-awake ramblings turn into something so resolute: "Don't ever lie, you selfish child/ Don't sell your soul, it's suicide". It's what makes that final note and refrain on 'Psychotic Opera' so impactful, too.

Anyway, I love you represent this -- the line about seeing in colour is brilliant, because the album certainly gives off the feeling of someone constantly having to readjust their lens.

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


1923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks guys >: )

ianblxdsoe
December 6th 2017


1406 Comments


love u jack u beautiful human being

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


20129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

jammin this now oh boy, this is way more spastic than I thought itd be

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


20129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dont sink

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


20129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this was way less emo than I thought itd be

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


20129 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

which are?

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
December 6th 2017


1923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hahahahahahahhahahahahaaahahahahah



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