Esben and the Witch
Violet Cries - Matador
FILTER Grade: 78%
By Laura Studarus on March 21, 2011
There’s a terrifying elegance to the shadowy world of Esben and the Witch—who set out to make brooding sexy again with debut album Violet Cries. Its success depends on how well you can connect to the more-is-more gothic mope that inspired Robert Smith to don makeup, Joy Division to become New Order and the Brothers Grimm to scare the crap out of kids. Don’t look for traditional verses or chorus structure—more atmosphere than song, the 10 tracks are hinged on Rachel Davies’ Siouxsie Siouxesque voice, floating above thick layers of guitar and synth like a ghostly presence. It’s a siren call of an instrument, adding a sense of claustrophobia to otherwise underwritten tracks (“Marine Fields Glow”) and rising to a battle cry during hot and heavy moments (“Marching Song”). Almost enough to give even the most devoted Bauhaus fan nightmares, the album’s musical restraint makes up for its emotional accesses. Sweet dreams.