Thursday, December 24, 2015

Waxahatchee - "Cerulean Salt" (LP Review)

Just over a year ago I reviewed "American Weekend", the debut LP from Waxahatchee.  Her second LP "Cerulean Salt" (2013) finds her backed by a "real band" (actually members shared with her sister's band, Swearin'). 

Whereas "American Weekend" was a solo, lo-fi, bedroom recording masterpiece, "Cerulean Salt" doesn't try to duplicate that success.  The songs are still sparse and minimally produced, but are enriched by the fuller sound afforded by the presence of band members.  Some of them even downright rawk -- such as "Coast to Coast" and especially "Misery Over Dispute".  And while the comparison to Liz Phair continues (exhibit A: "Brother Bryan" vs. "Girls! Girls! Girls!"; Exhibit B: "Dixie Cups and Jars" vs. "Go West"), a more thematic comparison would be to Bruce Springsteen in that the glossy, upbeat songs hide some pretty dark lyrics.  Almost any song would do, but it's hard to beat "Dixie Cups and Jars":
I'm not a whipper in the wind
Or solace laying at the bottom of a bottle
Or your thick skin
Escape yells both our names out loud
We run like hell, I'll write a tragic epilogue and you'll act it out

I watched your dad give you away
I watched him drink the bitter taste in his exertion away
Make-up sits on your face like tar
The champagne flutes poorly engineered
Employ dixie cups and jars
A more eloquent LP review is available at Pitchfork.  I will say that while it doesn't speak to me personally like "American Weekend", "Cerulean Salt" is arguably a better all around LP. 

Standout songs: "Dixie Cups and Jars" (live), "Brother Bryan" (live), "Coast to Coast" (live) (live w/ Mish Way), "Tangled Envisioning" (live), "Misery Over Dispute" (live), "Lively" (live), "Swan Dive" (live),

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 9/10. 

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