Monday, September 15, 2014

Hands Up to My Brightest Diamond's Fourth

My Brightest Diamond - This Is My Hand
Asthmatic Kitty Records
-out tomorrow
4 / 5

Shara Worden returns with a (drum roll please) drum roll. Marching band drum roll, to be more specific (care of the Detroit Party Band). Her fourth album as My Brightest Diamond has us reminiscing of St. Vincent's Strange Mercy, in that both ladies take counter-intuitive routes to accessible poppiness. And that's the way we like to get there: the road less traveled. The anchor to these songs is, of course, Worden's vocals - strong, feminine - but to say that's why we like this album is to deny the underlying impetus of This Is My Hand, which is, quite simply, musical simplicity. And if you're aware of My Brightest Diamond's previous works, perhaps you'll realize how unusual a tack that is.

Which brings us to songs like "Lover Killer." We weren't thinking we'd get anything danceable from Ms. Worden, given her penchant for the vast, dramatic (and bizarre) orchestration she is known for. But here it is: hand claps - nice and basic - into singable melodies, bass and horns, a svelte groove sexy and seductive. "Pressure" opens up with that drum roll, full-on marching horns, glockenspiel, and, of course, Worden's opera-trained voice - pounding, grooving, well-written. Our only complaint about this album (and is it really a complaint?) is that it doesn't stun immediately; it took us a few listens to get into truly appreciating the somewhat off-kilter route Worden takes with her instrumentation, with her shifting rhythms.

It's complex, as expected, and yet simple: pop, just a roundabout way to get there. This Is My Hand is My Brightest Diamond's return to the basic elements, their density and importance, their weight and pull, and comes highly recommended.

"Lover Killer" on Soundcloud. It's quite good.

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