Artist: Violent Mae
Label: Telegraph Recording Company
Release Date: 11/20/2015
The ambient haze of Violent Mae’s sophomore album is, as expected, more polished than the duo’s self-titled 2013 debut. However, the surf rock vibes are unexpectedly prevalent, as in opening track “In the Sun,” which blends speedy layers of reverb-drenched guitar with relaxed yet energized drum blasts. Becky Kessler’s low-toned vocals float over like a distant wave about to crash and wake you up from your sunsoaked daydream. While the disc has poignant highlights, the unrelenting instrumental undercurrent is often prolonged farther than necessary.
“Rob Me Blind” runs the spectrum vocally, from low cries to high-pitched wails, while Floyd Kellogg provides distinct, escalating drumbeats and wavering cymbals overlaying the blitzed-out guitar symphony. Then, “Away” brings back the beach vibes, but this time with soft, wavy guitar chords and slow, mellow drumbeats beneath a dark melody. “There’s no fight left in me now. There’s no life left in me now,” Kessler pours out in this painful, melancholy trance.
“IOU1” picks up speed with some heavy blues vibes, fully reaching its peak in a fuzzy noise interlude with bells and woodwinds included. “I want more, I want more from you… I thought you, I thought you were…” the lyrics release angrily and desperately.
“Murdered Bird” serves as the true indie rock hit of the disc, while the title track follows to begin the rhythmic descent into a dark and emotionally chaotic space. Track number 9, “Intro,” is oddly placed, but serves as a nice instrumental interlude before standout ballad “Neon Halos” leaves you in the dark, building energy and noise in an explosive intensification. The guitar in “Birthday” will leave you feeling emotionally and mentally volatile, before a final organ solo brings you into a questionable place. Is the new year about to be an enlightening experience, or has the past dragged you back into its remorseless grip?
– Kalyn Oyer