Cerulean Salt

Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
Buy On
  1. 40
    It's confessional solipsism, lacking the musical compulsion to make one care.
  2. Q Magazine
    Jul 10, 2013
    80
    A lot to take in, then, but a lethally brilliant concoction. [Aug 2013, p.107]
  3. Uncut
    Jul 10, 2013
    70
    The effervescent punk-pop of The Breeders is a touchstone, as is Kimya Dawson's ramshakle honesty, but "Lips And Limbs" affects a subtle country twang, while on the terrific "Blue Pt. II," skeletal acoustic acoustics and frank lyrics document a stagnating love affair. [Aug 2013, p.79]
  4. Mojo
    Jul 10, 2013
    80
    Cerulean Salt's added electricity, rhythm section, variety and production clarity still retains the intimacy, the skeletal arrangements and the plaintive urgency in here delivery, from a yelp to a croon. [Aug 2013, p.93]
  5. Jul 8, 2013
    60
    Cerulean Salt isn’t boundary breaking, but it possesses qualities enough to leave one charmed, if not consistently captivated.
  6. Jul 8, 2013
    80
    Waxahatchee’s second album is one to immerse yourself in, to lose yourself in and generally marvel at the raw emotion that’s so beautifully expressed.
  7. Jul 3, 2013
    80
    These are sad songs, sure; desperately sad, sometimes. But while the connections they depict may be long-severed, that they once existed at all is enough to grace this assured, affecting collection some hope, and an unlikely warmth that seeps in around its blunt, hard edges.
  8. Truths rarely come as beautiful as this.
  9. 60
    Like salted caramel, they become seriously moreish, once you lock into Crutchfield's delivery, which is more sophisticated than it first appears.
  10. Jun 28, 2013
    80
    Cerulean Salt represents an outstanding example of that talent blossoming into one of US indie’s most vital and compelling voices.
  11. 85
    One of Cerulean Salt’s great triumphs is that we believe in these people, the album’s intimacy heightens its sense of realism, its characters feel living.
  12. Jun 27, 2013
    60
    There's not much playfulness here or, surprisingly, vulnerability: Crutchfield finds too much strength in sadness for that.
  13. Jun 26, 2013
    60
    A spokesperson for wearied souls, Waxahatchee leaves the rest of us intrigued but far from in love.
  14. May 21, 2013
    90
    It’s a humble record, yet one with the timeless appeal to become a classic in league with the work of Waxahathee’s influences.
  15. Magnet
    Apr 16, 2013
    80
    Musically and lyrically, she shares more with Barbara Manning and John Darnielle, able to tell affecting late-night confessionals with sharp attention to detail and very little drama. [No. 97, p.61]
  16. Mar 27, 2013
    70
    the band here helps bring out all the frayed desperation in her voice.
  17. Sometimes we believe we care, what happens in the tuneful drywall of her shambling dreams.
  18. 83
    What makes Cerulean Salt so enjoyable and so endlessly relistenable is that some of her snapshots likely resemble ones from your own lost photo albums.
  19. Mar 20, 2013
    70
    At her best, Crutchfield has a way with concrete imagery that adds a sense of realism to her tales of woe and heartbreak, adding depth and poignance to them, while keeping them from becoming overbearingly personal.
  20. Mar 18, 2013
    80
    The stories of grim wedding scenes, hospital visits, and the various disappointments of daily life are all harrowing and intense, but Crutchfield's deft arrangement of lyrical details and their slow-release impact keeps the darkness from ever coming off as self-indulgent.
  21. Mar 14, 2013
    80
    These songs, short and sparsely arranged, are more fragile. Crutchfield’s hardly beautiful, unadorned singing helps this idea along, and the ways she uses her voice introduce a complicating factor: confidence.
  22. Mar 12, 2013
    72
    Some bands’ slightness reveals enough details in the sketches to endlessly pore over, but knowing Crutchfield is capable of great songs and that few here rise to the occasion is frustrating.
  23. 80
    While American Weekend had clear standouts in tracks like "Be Good" and "Bathtub," Cerulean Salt manages to maintain a consistently high quality throughout.
  24. Mar 8, 2013
    70
    This is an album of unlikely dichotomies: of confidence and vulnerability, of yearning and forgetting, and of the simultaneous danger and attractiveness of self-destruction.
  25. Mar 8, 2013
    80
    While the new record represents a considerable leap in ambition, it retains the hand-made, intensely personal quality that defined Crutchfield’s earlier work.
  26. Mar 7, 2013
    84
    It’s that blazingly honest, hyper-personal quality that places Cerulean Salt in the tradition of Elliott Smith, early Cat Power, or Liz Phair's free-flowing Girlysound tapes--the work of a songwriter skilled enough to make introspection seem not self-centered, but generous.
  27. Mar 6, 2013
    80
    Cerulean Salt is a very strong album, frank and blunt and vulnerable.
  28. Mar 6, 2013
    80
    The nakedness of Crutchfield’s music is the source of both its confidence and its vulnerability.
  29. Lesser songwriters might stop there, and accept lyrical maturation as the only necessary step toward a sophomore effort, but Crutchfield also uses Cerulean Salt as a way to expand her sonic palette beyond the crackling acoustic guitar ballads that marked her previous work.
  30. 80
    While the band’s dichotomy is uncommon, it works because, no matter the ratio of Crutchfield to the band, the emotion’s always pure and unfettered.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Dec 12, 2013
    9
    As an avid fan of what my girlfriend calls “sissy-boy emo,” lyrics rip my heart out on a fairly regular basis. Throw on something twinkly likeAs an avid fan of what my girlfriend calls “sissy-boy emo,” lyrics rip my heart out on a fairly regular basis. Throw on something twinkly like Grown Ups’ “Three Day Weekend” or Mineral’s “Palisade” and I’m liable to melt into an emotional puddle at a moment’s notice.

    That may be why it was so surprising when Waxahatchee’s sophomore LP hit me like a ton of bricks this year. Singer and guitarist Katie Crutchfield wrote thirteen tracks without impossible time signatures, obscure tunings, or guitar lines you’d need an advanced engineering degree to deconstruct. Without utilizing any emo cliches, Cerulean Salt made me feel more than any song Chris Carrabba has written in his entire preppy life.

    I first came across Waxahatchee on last year’s debut, American Weekend. I was instantly smitten by the emotionally raw lyrics and Crutchfield’s heart-wrenching vocal performances on songs like “Grass Stain” and “Michel.” Unfortunately, the rough quality that made these tracks so intimate, grew a bit grating as the album wore on and deterred me from delving deeper into it.

    While the lo-fi minimalism of her debut is gone, the polished quality of Cerulean Salt makes Katie’s songwriting shine brighter than ever. The addition of Swearin’s Kyle Gilbride and Keith Spencer on bass and drums brings new life to Waxahatchee’s folk-tinged punk that Crutchfield couldn’t as a solo act.

    Many of Waxahatchee’s lyrics deal with messy relationships (romantic or otherwise) and the band’s earnest songwriting ensures the lyrics hit home. Gilbride and Spencer do more than add a backing track to the heartbreaking lyrics. The band know how to make the emotions of Crutchfield’s lyrics wash over every aspect of a song.

    Crutchfield uses incredible detail when describing a close friend’s struggle with drug addiction over the quiet-loud progression of “Lively.” The delicate drum rolls that underscore her lilting vocals on “Swan Dive” propel the song’s forlorn lyrics from sad to “oh my god I’m going to start crying on the subway” territory. While the sunny guitar trills of “Coast To Coast” counter the end of the album’s melancholy vibe and make the song the perfect track to score a summer road trip.

    I still get chills every time I hear Katie croon “In this dejection/lives a connection/tied to your vain silence and all my resistance” on album closer “You’re Damaged.” The connection that she sings about is why Cerulean Salt tore me, and many other listeners, to shreds in a way that no other album could this year.
    Full Review »
  2. Jul 4, 2013
    6
    Katie Crutchfield presents us with Waxahatchee’s second album Cerluean Salt. The album is low-fi, acoustic and vocal heavy. It’s the albumKatie Crutchfield presents us with Waxahatchee’s second album Cerluean Salt. The album is low-fi, acoustic and vocal heavy. It’s the album that I wouldn’t usually listen to, but she has me coming back to it because I’m intrigued with her blend of fuzzy sweet sadness. The album has that sad feeling of failure woven into it’s sound, it’s wonderful vocal heavy sound where Katie’s vocals can really shine, and they add to the low-fi 90′s feel that the album carries from beginning to end. But it’s this sound that proves to be difficult at points. Sometimes it can be too much, it can become too familiar and it wears a little thin on tracks like “Lips and Limbs” which I feel that the track doesn’t really get my attention, and that’s always been my problem with this type of music. It’s underlying problem, for me, is that I’ve heard it all way too much before.

    However, the album really glows, it does so in a timid and vulnerable way, but it is great in places, such as “Blue Pt. II” which is so bare and stripped back instrumentally, and with the minimal soft vocal production, it becomes something beautiful. “Brother Bryan” is another strong song on the album, again, it is minimal with just a bass and bare elements of a drum kit. In contrast to these songs you have “Coast to Coast” which has a fuller sound, a sound that the album needs and welcomes.

    “Misery over Dispute” carries a really fuzzy guitar tone and “Swan Dive” carries a really indie and jangly guitar tone, but the changes between sounds, seem to fit.

    Overall, the album can be pleasant in it’s woe, but it’s issue is that it can become burdened by the softer sounds over the thirteen tracks. It still makes for an enjoyable listen, it can just be one that can become slightly stale in the odd place.
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 12, 2013
    9
    This album has all of the sounds of a classic rock album. I'm not a "critic" critic, but I know the sound of a great album when I hear it. (InThis album has all of the sounds of a classic rock album. I'm not a "critic" critic, but I know the sound of a great album when I hear it. (In fact, this one is just as good as LIz Phair's "Exile in Guyville" if not as long.) Intelligent and honest lyrics, good acoustics and singer Katie Crutchfield's vocals and persona all work for an enjoyable listen that will keep me raving to it many times over. Full Review »