Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Feeding Fingers : "Attend"

Justin Curfman's project was too big for the small-minded punk thinking of Atlanta, so stretching himself creatively meant escaping the marketing machine of American hipsters to embrace a style of post-punk that might be rooted in the kind of dark indie rock once churned out by Interpol, but expanding in the kind of multi-cultural embrace that artists like Peter Murphy and David Byrne give to their often cinematic sonic tapestries. The album opens strong. The songs are adorned with melody in lush strokes of gilded gold and crimson rather than the stark drab arrangements most post- punk revivalists stick to. The bass line of "Perfume Truth" is the albums first cumbersome moment and where I was struck with the Interpol comparison. Things shift to a more David Lynchian jazz on "Barbed Wire Threads the Sun". The guitar's thick re-verb rings out  into the steamy night. Curfman's baritone croon finds new ways to slip between the grooves.

It's not unfounded in post-punk for the bass line to hold the riff where the guitar normally would in rock music. Here it works like a b-side by the Cure. Curfman doesn't hold the same level of emotive vulnerability in his croon that Robert Smith can summon, but does alright on his own. The title track finds a similar formula in place, but this time takes into a dark place. We hear Curfman's voice drop down into a lower key as a more ominous tone is taken. Here and many other places on the album he take a hard left turn into experimentation with world music. It is more of a jarring turn than what Dead Can Dance does , as they never hold any allusions to being rock music in the first place. Some of these transitions are smoothed over in weird little interludes and others are not. He often comes to weird cross roads meeting sounds similar to artists like Vast with a more quirky Dresdan Dolls escapades. There is almost a Nine Inch Nails like pulse to "All In Full Bloom Smeared". His upper range is more of a whine here. He does make a graceful turn to a more dark wave sound on "Through Marrow Always".

There is a surreal elegance to the dreamy sway of "Abrasive Remains Lubricate Me". He goes back to a more conventional form of post-punk with bass line to "Polaroid Papercuts". One of this projects strengths is the fact he sings, rather than just reverting to the typical Ian Curtis styled narrative. The two worlds of conventional post-punk and Justin's collection of oddities reaches a perfect balance on "At Play With Wasps" .  He attempts reach a more Morrissey like yodel, however are not one of his vocal strengths and when he attempts to put more of a Robert Smith like desperation into his voice works mush better for him. Another balance between rock and atmosphere is found on "The Smiling Dumb and Serious" . When he tries on cabaret for "Survive Bliss" it's a less inspired experiment. The quirky new wave bounce injected into "And Crayon Toxic Twins" works well against the jazz embellishments. I'm a little unsure about the folkish balladry of "In Liquid Summer Schools". The melody doesn't seem as focused as many of the other songs.

Unlike most of today's so called "goth" artists, Justin is not out to get you on the dance floor. The catchy grooves seem to be accidental with "Did My Absence Follow Me" coming across more like a lost gem from 'alternative radio" in the 90s. "the Last Bruise I Harvest Here" takes you on a woozy Doors like journey into the Middle East. With "Orphans Veiled in Feathers" He wanders into darker Nick Cave like landscapes. There is some added melodrama to his croon. He tests out his more fragile upper register in the whispered ballad 'the First Born Stands Sedated" that is more Bright Eyes than "Hurt".  Justin returns to his flirtations with Robert Smith, this time it's more "Disentigration" era and it pays off in a major way on "I am Erasing Doors".It took a few listens for me to ingest the more electro pulse of "Where All These Towns and Choices End". In some ways in reminds me of a more sedate She Wants Revenge. While the vocals can at some times be both this album's blessing and curse depending on which way they are going, over all this ambitious two hour project hits way more than it misses and it actually pretty fucking good so I'll round it up to a 9 and hope for all this compressed into ten songs next time.

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