Review this album
Mar 12, 2013This 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.… Expand
Dec 12, 2013As 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 guis 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.… Expand
Jul 10, 2013Cerulean 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]