Lack the Low
One Eye Closed


4.3
superb

Review

by house cat STAFF
April 12th, 2018 | 43 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Kat Hunter: vocals, piano, organ, guitar, violin, cello, alto saxophone, banjo, electronics"

A quick one for this album, a recondite pop gem well worth my effort + well above my skill-set. It’s a weird record to bow to, but as its newest disciple, I wish to make this clear: musically, lyrically, and aesthetically, this is a cosmic event of a record. It’s one of those rare instances where the product appears so much larger than its source, where the old “the sky is the limit” cliché rings with a truth unusual for an artist anchored to obscure corners of her local music scene. It makes me feel like I can overcome anything, which – I think – is no coincidence. We’ll get to that shortly.

Kat Hunter has a stunning voice; her peaks are powerful and graceful enough to soar alongside her symphonic horn arrangements, but she doesn’t Lack the Lows, either. As a composer, she’s even more impressive, endeavouring to dismantle her arrangements halfway through a track so she can rebuild them around a singular refrain or melody. As the aphorism goes, Bird One is a memorable hook, Bird Two is the crystallisation of the pertinent theme, and this rearranging is her stone of choice. Progress has Hunter finding and acting on her own volition with the lyric ”I’ve been thinking that it’s time for me to do what I’ve been saying I’d do for so long”, and its worth believing; the horn section codifying the sentiment as though it should be received as gospel.

And the gospel, from where I’m standing, looks to journey through pages assessing, lamenting, and beckoning perseverance. Dream Every Night of Running kicks up a storm and then rummages through the remains, its Pyramid Song progression in the latter half preceding the huge, orchestral arrangements that dominate the last few songs, belying the idea that 1) Lack the Low is predominantly a solo project and 2) this is Kat Hunter’s debut record. But One Eye Closed isn’t Hunter’s note-to-self, it’s really quite inclusive -- a communal meditation presenting the listener with obstacles so as to teach them, without sanctimony or pretention, the same lesson that Hunter is teaching herself. The first half of the record is accessible in this sense, relatively easy listening, like a Sharon Van Etten jaunt if Van Etten sang about breakthroughs instead of break-ups. The listener grows complacent here, and thus it becomes necessary to really engage with the album as it progresses, in order to grapple with the stylistic switch-ups that dominate the final few pieces.

[sidenote: the record is streaming on Echoes and Dust, who’ve labelled the vocals “Thom Yorke-esque”, which is fine, but i can’t help but think she instead combines the soul of Van Etten with the vocal elasticity of Bjork. maybe i’m short on reference points.]

But the final run of songs! Oh Lord, from The Daylight Is All Inside to God Knows Why, Hunter contorts pop conventions into the weirdest shapes, believing wholly in the listener’s ability to adapt and persist through the shifting vistas illustrated in her songs. Sure enough, one learns to see behind the standoffish time signatures in It Did, I Can’t, or the formlessness that makes The Daylight…. Seven Different Species especially feels like an apt title -- all of the species contained within the five-minute margin, writhing and pulsating within the everchanging scaffold. It’s because the chord progression here feels arbitrary, eschewing the tension/release paradigm for an overwhelming amount of tension. The scene eventually turns menacing, and Hunter gets swallowed up in the mix -- caught in the folds before escaping into God Knows Why: a Grand Finale, a rallying cry. Note the bottled-up optimism here: “You might just make it after all”.

Those challenging, unresolved chord progressions actually litter the back half of this record. Speaking to the creativity and scrupulousness involved in such layered instrumentals: one friend said these songs are “decaying”, another complained that it just feels like Hunter is “picking chords out of a hat”. Regardless, the three of us agree, at least, that the approach effectively exhibits Kat’s ambition and songwriting prowess. This album is also grandiose, all-encompassing. It returns everything the world throws at it tenfold and proves that there is always always always another path to what one must achieve/attain.

I said this write-up would be a quick one, but it turns out I had a lot to say. So does One Eye Closed, honestly -- it's just that, when it speaks, it's much more interesting, and much more eloquent.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
verdant
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

https://www.echoesanddust.com/2018/04/exclusive-album-stream-lack-the-low-one-eye-closed/

-- stream



ramon helped me articulate these opinions a little bit, thanks ramon

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is the perfect amount of imperfect. If nothing else, the last three song's overshadowing of the rest proves that -- the two singles are magnificent, but don't even touch these final tracks. I never would have thought that Progress could eventuate into this.

Digging: Novo Amor - Birthplace

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


1400 Comments


I’ve literally never heard of this staffer

Digging: Coheed and Cambria - Vaxis - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Whose cat?

verdant
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

consider yrself lucky

FreddieDelaney31
April 12th 2018


4830 Comments


Amazing review as per, super interested in listening to this now

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2555 Comments


"Kat Hunter has a stunning voice; her peaks are powerful and graceful enough to soar alongside her symphonic horn arrangements, but she doesn’t Lack the Lows, either."
not sure if this feeling is a burning hatred or a raging boner but you win this time, Jake

ProjectFreak
April 12th 2018


3051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I’ve literally never heard of this staffer"



you're missing out



This seems like an album I'd listen to on album art and track titles alone, but this review is great and I'mma spin this when I get a chance

verdant
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

thanks friends!!

ramon: porque no los dos

i really want to start a sput hype train with this album

nolerthebowler
April 12th 2018


2497 Comments


that is a wicked ass album cover, and damn from the amount of instruments she sounds like a virtuoso, will check

ProjectFreak
April 12th 2018


3051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so on first listen, this alternates between stunningly beautiful and obnoxiously pretentious. It sorta feels like there are some moments that are avant garde for the sake of being avant garde, but when everything clicks, holy wow. The closer is amazing

Evreaia
April 12th 2018


5018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mhhh this is not on spotify it seems. sad.

Digging: Aorlhac - L'esprit des vents

ProjectFreak
April 12th 2018


3051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it hasn't even released yet

Ebola
April 12th 2018


3311 Comments


verb the noun

verdant
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

everyone listen

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


6675 Comments


could be verb the adjective, let's give the ol' benefit of the doubt here mmmk

verdant
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2018


2261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Jack the Bro

AdolfChrist
April 12th 2018


17495 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Kat Hunter: vocals, piano, organ, guitar, violin, cello, alto saxophone, banjo, electronics"



holy fuck, i envy her versatility.

Digging: Retirement Party - Somewhat Literate

Evreaia
April 13th 2018


5018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stream is pretty cool.

EphemeralEternity
April 13th 2018


3126 Comments


she's also rather prepossessing..so cultivating proficiency in a field such as music was decidedly optional for her.

lovely review jack though I only read the summary as usual



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