3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2008
Marnie Stern walks many a fine line. The music features multiple layers of "fiddly" guitars and often atonal vocals, but throws in enough melody and hooks to make it wholly memorable and not at all difficult to listen to. Marnie wears her influences on her sleeve, admitting that her guitar tapping technique is largely inspired by Don Caballero's Ian Williams, and goes as far as getting Hella's Zach Hill to drum on the album and help produce it, but the album sounds more like her own personal vision than anything else. And her personal vision is one of fascinating music, complicated enough to reward repeated listens but not so dense as to make a bad first impression. It's one of the few albums of 2007 I feel I will still be listening to in years to come.
on 24 September 2012
At first the blast of drums and guitars and vocals that makes up yr typical Marnie Stern song might sound like an explosion in a music shop, but don't run for cover right away. Pay attention to the virtuoso fragments as they whiz past your ears and you'll realise that that songs such as 'Vibrational Match' and 'Absorb Those Numbers' contain beautiful melodies in their jagged tangents. What does it sound like? Like Sleater Kinney exploded into a million art rock pieces, all intricate guitar parts and songs that combust and re-combust as they go on.
Forget such easy comparisons and throw yourself into the heart of the album and you'll discover the greater purpose of this musical shrapnel. It's there in the lyrics and song titles, which read like frantic notes to self: "Keep on! Keep at it! Keep on! Keep at it!", 'Put All Your Eggs In One Basket and Then Watch That Basket!!', 'Every Single Line Means Something'.
This is music that constantly challenges itself to get better, more imaginative. It'd sound hectoring if there wasn't so much going on, if every song weren't a firecracker full of ideas, just waiting to seen, heard, imitated, and dreamed of. On album closer 'Patterns of a Diamond Ceiling', Stern describes her method while she demonstrates it. "The picture in my head is my reward" she says, and you believe her, but you know that the picture wouldn't be half so valuable if there weren't listeners out there eager to misinterpret it for themselves. By the time all of the elements in the song have been brought together to ignite, you've learned Stern's methods, and it's time to burn your own picture into the sky. You've got the tools, you've got the know-how: go!