3 out of 5
Label: Jealous Butcher Records
Produced by: Danny Seim?
To a certain extent, I’d ask that you ignore the middle-of-the-road rating I’ve afforded Corrina Repp’s newest album, How A Fantasy Will Kill Us All. Years of the artist’s solo works and group offerings have already proven how skilled Repp is; from album to album it’s a matter of the emotional whims that may stir her to a full collection of songs, and here it’s – according to the Jealous Butcher summary – the rediscovery of living life after a failed relationship. But don’t let that scare you into viewing this as a break up record: while Repp touches on such things on tracks like Need You / Don’t Need You and the title track, her lyrics are generally on a more contemplative plane.
The opener of the album, Lightest Light, is amazingly stirring. Starting from a ghostly echo, the track begins in proper, and then the drums kick in triumphantly. Repp’s floaty voice is layered and layered amidst the buzzing and building fuzzy guitar, hazing into a satisfying crescendo that gives way to the next track… to start the journey again. The overall structure of each track does, indeed, follow a similar pattern of quiet; drums shuffle in; big build up; fade out; the pieces, however, are lush and distinct and given some of the wondrous subtleties (especially in the album’s latter half on Fierce in the Headlights or A Silhouette as a Sound), the album is a must on headphones. I don’t care how great your speakers are – you gotta be plugged in to take advantage of the immersion.
And you will be enmeshed, deep in the drone-like hum of any given song, but maybe only for that song. I kept realizing that I would swoon over a track, and then sort of lose my place on the album. But maybe I got distracted, so I’d pick up from the last song I remembered, and god damn, the swooning would begin anew… but my ears would again wander after another song or so. The aforementioned structural similarities are partially to blame, but after several go-rounds, I think there’s something to the production that’s at fault. Repp’s vocals are deep and clear as day, and the drums hit hard, but in trying to capture the compositions’ warmth, there’s a certain leveling out to all of it that shears off some necessary oomph that would’ve made the emotional gut-punch reoccurring. I was drawn to thinking about something sparse, like Tiny Vipers; Chris Common’s work on those discs gives the voice-and-guitar minimalism such a cavernous, rich sound; here, there’s a lot going on, but it’s too easy to tune out.
So: if you were to go song by song, play, give it time to sink in, then come back for song two, How A Fantasy Will Kill Us All is rightfully astounding, and moving. Unfortunately, I don’t generally listen to music that way… and so the surface-level soundalike vibe, Repp’s purposeful reliance on lyrical repetition, and the dulled-edge production, all limit the impact of the experience rather significantly.