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Wash the Sins not Only the Face

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (21 Jan. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: MATADOR.
  • ASIN: B009XMYUO8
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,836 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Wash the Sins not Only the Face is the second album from Brighton-based trio Esben and the Witch. To make their second album, Esben and the Witch questioned, challenged and rewired their past to find the way to their future. They wanted the album to unfurl like a journey, like a day, where opening songs are possessed of a brightness, an optimism that ebbs away over the record’s course.

Unlike debut album Violet Cries, the lyrics of Wash the Sins not Only the Face were written solely by Rachel Davies and are influenced by surrealism.

BBC Review

What used to be labelled goth back in the dark ages of post-punk, and is now called darkwave, has never been the most credible of musical genres.

The media has generally sneered at those who’d rather solve their problems by turning the lock on their bedroom door for eight hours than take to the streets in protest. Admittedly, black nail varnish and backcombed hair did look a bit pantomime, and some sentiments sailed very close to the wind – Bauhaus’ Stigmata Martyr, anyone?

Singer Rachel Davies and co-guitarists/studio boffins Daniel Copeman and Thomas Fisher clearly enjoy sailing close, too: not only by their band name (named after a Danish fairytale) but also the album title Wash the Sins Not Only the Face. It’s the follow-up to 2011’s debut Violet Cries, whose cover resembled a still from The Blair Witch Project.

Yet at every turn, this new album eschews clichés – any strident shrieking, chanting and cod imagery – for something sleek, fluid and effortlessly modern. After their first album’s density of production and matching mood, they’ve discovered a new sense of levity. This witch can now fly.

So if When That Head Splits sound gruesome in theory, in principle it’s heady dream-pop, fusing late-period Siouxsie and the Banshees with Beach House and the kind of romantic dread that the 4AD label once specialised in. And talking of 4AD circa 1986, Despair sounds very like the sadly underrated and long-forgotten Clan of Xymox, another trio who used dark paint to create euphoric pictures.

By the time of The Fall of Glorieta Mountain, Esben and the Witch are more of a piece with The xx, while Yellow Wood and the closing Smashed to Pieces in the Still of the Night (early candidate for song title of 2013) are the fountainhead for the newly minted genre of goth-gaze, a repository of beautiful spangling noise with a side helping of shadow.

Or perhaps we should just call it darkwave, or do away with genres altogether. Because what the likes of Esben and American duo Exitmusic are doing is breathing new life into music that has too long been considered the preserve of old ghosts.

--Martin Aston

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Customer Reviews

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I heard EATW accidentally when I tuned in to 6 Music one evening - the first band they reminded me of was The Cranes, but I've added Evanescence since then; It all sounds a bit tortured and gothic, (with a small "g") , I like the way they create a sense of off-centred alienation but keep a sense of proportion while they're doing it - it doesn't degenerate into feedback and shouting at any point. Recommended!
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Format: Audio CD
Despite its direct translation from a Greek palindrome, there's something slightly clunky about that album title and it's not the only problem needing mention here, for there's been something mildly amiss throughout the majority of the small Esben And The Witch catalogue to date.

As dark and claustrophobic as their debut LP Violet Cries was, for example, it only truly seemed to come alive on stage where, amongst other things, those monolithic hand-drums served as a sombre rallying cry to the cold at heart. On record, for the most part, these same sounds simply arrived, swirled around and left as a mysterious whole with few glimpses as to an underbelly and with fewer still lasting impressions.

Wash The Sins Not Only The Face is thus a more approachable recording, one built less around oppressive aesthetics and more around Rachel Davies`s fine vocal. There are however plusses and minuses to this approach. Though more intimate - and here arguably creepier - exposed song-craft requires songs and this is where Wash The Sins Not Only The Face partially falls down.

First things first, though friendlier than its predecessor, this is no singles album despite it being more than possible to coerce such material out stark ballads, chilly pop and generally Gothic manoeuvres. Probably plumping for the up-tempo "Deathwaltz" from a lack of choice then, its lengthy closing instrumental isn't nearly as face-meltingly interesting as its title promises and whilst its brief and noisy counterpart "Despair" is better it also lacks identity.
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