Sharon Van Etten
Are We There


4.5
superb

Review

by Pangea USER (7 Reviews)
May 17th, 2021 | 30 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sharon van Etten's fourth album Are We There is a powerful and emotional album with a full, but organised, instrumentation and excellent production.

The title Are We There suggests a journey, or at the very least, a longing towards the journey's end. Just like many works from heart upon the sleeve songwriters, it's an album that is determined by the circumstances during its creation. Written during the dissolvement of a ten-year-old relationship that ended due to the difficulty of maintaining a relationship with a busy touring life, it's full of pain and doubt. Album highlight ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’ is as brutal as its title would suggest; it's a song about unhealthy love represented in one of the rawest manners possible with its bleak instrumental, devastating lyrics and Sharon van Etten’s powerful vocals. There is a disturbing force in her vocals during the chorus that showcases both strength and despair, making the song her strongest performance on the album.

This aforementioned doubt creeps into the album from every corner. ‘Tarifa’ is supposed to be the album’s happy place, a song written during summer vacation with her partner in the namesake Spanish town. It’s a soulful piece with its mellow guitar strumming, organ and bass clarinet. There is a peaceful quality to it, but even then, there is an uncertainty to it as well when van Etten sings “Tell me when / Tell me when is this over?”. Are We There can sound deceitfully sweet sometimes. The track ‘Our Love’ similarly lulls you in with its delightful beats and pretty vocals, only to contrast those vibes with some of the more depressing lyrics of the album: “At the bottom of the well/ I am reliving my own hell”.

The production on Are We There is incredible. There is never a single instrument that steals the show on the album, rather the instruments intertwine together to create a full sound that works as a canvas for van Etten’s voice to do its magic. For example, there is a weight to the bass tone in the intro of ‘Taking Chances’ that is beautifully contrasted with the light piano melody. Elsewhere on the album, the track ‘You Know Me Well’ opens with a marching, thunderous drum beat that creates an ominous atmosphere together with static guitars and a simple piano melody, making it one of the darker songs on the album. ‘I Love You But I’m Lost’ and ‘I Know’, in contrast, showcase the album in its most simple and stripped-down side, with little more than a piano melody and van Etten’s vocals. However, there is a beauty in this simplicity with both tracks having a touching melody and vocal performance.

For all the doubt that is expressed lyrically, Are We There is an album that is created with purpose. Everything on the album sounds incredibly organized and no note or instrument seems out of place. In that respect ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’ feels like a fish out of water. The line “I washed your dishes, but I shit in your bathroom” was a studio joke that somehow never left the album and the song ends with studio banter that doesn’t feel all that connected to the song. However, this light-heartedness is exactly what this album could use at the end, and it’s a refreshing reminder that life goes on no matter how difficult the road ahead may look. In the end we can never know where our choices lead us, but as long as we keep going, we’ll get there someday.



Recent reviews by this author
Agnes Obel PhilharmonicsThe Boo Radleys Giant Steps
Imagine Dragons Imagine DragonsSnow Patrol When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up
Mister And Mississippi We Only Part To Meet AgainNatalie Prass Natalie Prass
user ratings (366)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Pangea
May 17th 2021


6775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

huge thanks to the king pheromone for feedback and proofreading

Digging: A Bunny's Caravan - Draining Puddles, Retrieving Treasures

Pangea
May 17th 2021


6775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

also obligatory your love is killing me is the best song ever comment

Bedex
May 17th 2021


2725 Comments


The production of Are We There is incredible and so is the review m/

normaloctagon
May 17th 2021


6078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

we are here



will read soon b

Pangea
May 17th 2021


6775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks bedex, you heard this? (question also applies to norma)

Bedex
May 17th 2021


2725 Comments


i didd not alas

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2021


3176 Comments


god i rly need to listen to this don't i, sounds like a great record
and obvz great review since it fully sold me!!

brainmelter
May 18th 2021


7530 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

rip robin

and nice read poz’d

Digging: La Torture des Tenebres - Civilization Is the Tomb of Our Noble Gods

theBoneyKing
May 18th 2021


20691 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Huzzah, this finally has a review again! And a good one too, have a pos.

normaloctagon
May 18th 2021


6078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really lovely review panpan and no i've not heard this before!!



i admire your writing style, it's descriptive without overdoing it and results in the music coming to life on the page in a way that makes me super stoked to check out the album. one small nitpick is that there were a few instances of "___ is" that could have been turned into contractions and further aided the excellent flow of the piece, but again it's a nitpick, hard pos and thx for sharing

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2021


38944 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

It is here! Great album, great review, all *rejoice*!!

Bookends and Tarifa are the best ofc, maybe I will bump this now

Digging: The Flashbulb - Kirlian Selections

Jash
May 18th 2021


4296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Every time the sun comes up I’m in trouuuubbblllleeeeeeeee



Great review for a great record

Digging: Adjy - The Idyll Opus (I-VI)

Pangea
May 18th 2021


6775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers norma fixed



thank you all!

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2021


8303 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

ooooh it's finally here! very good rev panpan

Trifolium
May 18th 2021


25520 Comments


Yipppeeeee Pan!!!!! Reading this when my coffee is ready 💞

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2021


14976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well this is just a fucking stunner, pangea! the last paragraph in particular hot damn



so happy to see this finally have a review, have been suffering suffering suffering because i have been listening to this alot and i used to have it at 2.5 so needed a thread to be ripped on and embrace

Digging: Moral Decay - To Build an End

Pangea
May 18th 2021


6775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you (also for the cleaning up once again!)



This was definitely in dire need of a review

hamid95
May 19th 2021


966 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thank you for your service



modern classic

pollastrerostit
May 20th 2021


403 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the review, this badly needed one after the old one disappeared! Very well written review for a great album.



Tarifa is definitely my fave here, has been since the first day



Gonna jam again and maybe bump to 5



Pangea
May 20th 2021


6775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks both!



tarifa was my biggest grower interestingly. i didn't love it at first but it's now firmly my 2nd favourite behind your love is killing me



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy