Everyone's a Critic (At Least For Today)

Fee the Prodigy is a man. He is a good man. In his other life, he is a loving father and caring husband. However, today, he’s a harsh critic, tearing out the very souls of R. Sell and the Atlantic Manor crew. Evil, evil, evil bastard!

Without further ado…

THESE ARE SAD SONGS… LISTEN ACCORDINGLY

These are the words printed at the top of a press pack that TPM sent me. I considered myself warned while simultaneously coming to the realization that doing this album review was serious business. When thepaintedman announced the opportunity to be a guest reviewer, I jumped at the idea. I figured I could just sit back with a couple of Dead Guy Ales, kick my feet up, and listen to some tunes. But upon opening the package, I was confronted with a Lo-Fi, black and white sticker of a morose figure hunched over in a hospital bed and a document telling me that I must feel sad before listening. It was then that I realized I was definitely in way over my head, but nevertheless, I watched the end of Bambi and ripped off all the heads of my childhood stuffed animals. There, that should do it.

The World Beneath This World is Brightening is a sparse, plodding album dominated by emotional landscapes created by The Atlantic Manor. From the first notes the opening track, which features the unintelligible babbling of a child, to the instrumental soliloquy of the final track, this album is relentless in it’s somber tone. Two 12-plus minute songs book-end this release with droning intensity. What lies in-between does not stray too far from the theme. Due to the static nature of the sonic texture and its relentlessly bleak overtones, I literally felt exhausted after listening this album. I will give the artist the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was intended.

Lyrically, the album is actually quite clever at times. The lyrics create fleeting images that do not reveal so much that the listener can not dwell deep in his own mental devices. The theme of the album is represented in the lyrics as consistently as in the instrumentation. Dark and lonely emotions saturate every stanza. In, perhaps, my favorite song, “Deathcrown”, we hear the lyrics:

A dark cheer for all you did
Deathcrown sickle dance
In your kingdom
You’re God

This is uttered quite skillfully over a triumphant yet melancholy climax in the heart of the album. R. Sell’s vocal range is never really tested on this album. He deliberately stays with a raspy, narrative style of singing that fits well within the context of album.

I think The World Beneath This World is Brightening is a very imaginative piece. The song composition, although simple in nature, is effective in evoking emotion for those with the patience to sit through it. While the album could definitely benefit from a more polished mastering process, the finished product presents a clear and cohesive theme executed fairly well. I think that the album does not do enough to satisfy my personal itch for technical virtuosity or rhythmic excitement. I also recognize that this album falls on the far end of the spectrum of what I expect music to give back to me. I have always found joy within music and can not grasp why one would use music to enhance or bring themselves to a despondent state. For those hesitant to dive right in to this album, pick up The Eels End Times and give that a listen. I think that End Times was able to achieve what this record was striving for, with a just a little extra to keep the listener engaged.

Overall, I did not enjoy the album, but I’m not going to say it is “bad” either. For one, I know very well that my musical taste is subjective and also I would hate to make this guy even sadder. Cheer up, buddy!

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~ by thepaintedman on August 3, 2010.

2 Responses to “Everyone's a Critic (At Least For Today)”

  1. […] http://thepaintedman.brookiellen.com/everyones-a-critic-at-least-for-today/ […]

  2. I sat with Matt while listening to this album and I fully agree with his critique. I’m not saying its terrible, but it is the complete opposite of what I like to listen to.

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