Saturday, 9 April 2011

Violet Cries - Esben and the Witch Album Review

fadedblank thinks...

Esben and the Witch haven’t quite got it yet. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise upon first giving their debut album, Violet Cries, a spin as it does start out very, very strong.

From the slow build up and glorious break down of the opening track Argyria, to the almost perfectly executed Marching Song and the hauntingly wistful Marine Fields Glow, it does seems like Esben and the Witch have the moody atmosphere and muddy sound all worked out. Of particular note are the tracks Argyria and Marching Song. The first is a near perfect album opener, with the slow and quiet thumping only serving to draw the listeners into what will be the mood of the entire album, yet not lacking punch itself with a wonderfully satisfying closer after the long build up. Marching Song on the other hand, gives exactly what its title says. Except it’s not a song for one to march to, but rather a song that thoroughly encapsulates the feelings and mood of a military unit marching out to war (in a dour rain too, considering the way the song sounds). In fact, the songs sound very much what some of Wilfred Owen’s better poems would sound like if he wrote music instead of poetry.

Still, as early as the ending of Marine Fields Glow we are imbued with a subtle sense of unease with regards to whether the band can maintain this quality throughout the album. And seeing how the songs that follow are Light Streams, Hexagons IV and the simply messy sounding Chorea, we are quickly given our answer – no. The album doesn’t come anywhere near reclaiming the standards that it opened with until somewhere in the last one third of Eumenides. Even then, Swans is not quite nearly as good as Argyria and Marching Song, although it’s quiet, sombre wails do close the album off quite satisfactorily. The quality of the lyrics are equally as erratic, ranging from the perfectly suited evocative imagery of Marching Song, to bits in other songs (largely in the middle of the album) where it almost feels as if they are picking random words that just barely seem to fit into the title or mood of the song. It’s not that the low points of the album are necessarily bad or have absolutely terrible writing, but it’s all very mediocre. It’s a real shame to see an album that starts as fantastically as this one does descend into mediocrity. And the middle, mediocre portion also happens to make up the majority of the album. Having 5 mediocre songs in an album of 10 songs is not a very good sign, especially considering there are only 3 strong songs.

A strong first album, yet Esben and the Witch still have quite a ways to go. If only the album was as constantly strong throughout as the way it began, or even the way it ended. A pity, but perhaps the band can take their strong points in this album and replicate it in their next one. An album made entirely of songs that are of Marching Song quality would be a masterpiece, or at least come pretty close.

The Verdict

+ Strong opening and closing
+ Argyria
+ Marching Song
+ Swans
- Weak middle portion (which is the bulk of the album)
- Erratic quality of writing
- Hexagons IV
- Chorea
- Warpath

Final Score: 3/5


Written by fadedblank

Rachel loves sharing about the beautiful things in life from different perspectives. She writes on beauty and lifestyle in Cherchez Beauté , and does more abstract stuff on Antelune . When she's not writing, she's playing with her dog Holly, doodling and reading fiction. You can follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .