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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 16, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Review: Haunting instruments magnify vulnerable vocals

"The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You"

Neko Case

The sound of eerie guitar solos, comical rants and clear vocals are sewn through every beat of “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,” the latest album by Neko Case. After four years, the frontwoman of The New Pornographers has blessed her fans with yet another solo album.

This time around, Case’s album is reminiscent of Regina Spektor’s anti-folk sound. The track “Man” is the most upbeat song Case has ever recorded. It’s phenomenal, with fast guitar and rock ’n’ roll drum beats. The album also has very relatable lyrics in tracks like “Calling Cards,” where Case sings, “Every dial tone/ every truck stop/ every heartbreak/ I love you more.”

One of most memorable tracks on the album is “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” because of Case’s vulnerable vocals. The majority of the song is a cappella, with echoing voices added for effect, creating a more sensitive sound with the layered vocals. The track also features tongue-in-cheek lyrics like, “We were waiting for the shadow to take us to the airplane when your mother said/ your mother said like I couldn’t hear her.’”

“Where Did I Leave That Fire” also shines for its eerie instrumentals, including a synthesizer that sounds like water droplets, a short piano consonance and exposed vocals with a quiet bass chord in the background. Though the majority of the song is a cappella, the drum, guitar and piano composition in the middle of the track makes the song more emotional.

However, the album does have flaws. Tracks like “Magpie to the Morning” have no climax and are exceptionally bland. The song only features repetitive guitar riffs, drum beats and mumbling vocals. “Yon Ferrets Return” is a mess of random guitar solos, no solid beat and echoed singing mixed with background vocals to create an overall confused, muddy sound.

Despite these problems, Case’s jazzy sound makes the album worth listening to, especially when relaxing, taking a break or studying.

Ashley Wolf can be reached at awolf2@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @@ashleyjcwolf