This Glass Embrace

The Light That Shines Into Our Graves

Written by: LF on 01/03/2014 22:33:21

This Glass Embrace is somewhat of a mystery to me. I have had a major soft spot for their 2011 album "Brother, We Are Devils!" since it came out, but its raw production and at times very dissonant sound is not exactly the epitome of beauty to me, and thus I'm still trying to narrow down exactly why I like it as much as I do. As they are a relatively little-known band, a proper introduction might be in order. The band consists of brothers Matt and Zack LeFevers, Matt's wife Jackie, and their friend Kenny Rice. They primarily play indie rock and post-hardcore, but rarely mix the two styles in the same songs. Their last album was simply divided in two with the first half comprised of acoustically driven indie rock and the latter of gut-wrenching post-hardcore songs.

This time around they have jumbled things up even in the individual songs, although that doesn't shine through that clearly on the first couple of tracks. The album starts by setting a tranquil mood with the introductory glockenspiel notes of the eerie but beautifully melodic "Cartesian" that ring in your ears while Matt thoughtfully sings "There is a ghost in the machine / There is an I behind my eyes / If soul and substance are the same / Then there's no truth and no one's right". When the next song starts however, this mood is ripped apart as the loud yelps and urgent guitars of "Marrow" enter the stage, only to be replaced again a few minutes later by the sweet and folk-influenced riffs of "The Atlantic". It can be hard to see any unifying factors in this eclectic bombardment of sounds, but what ultimately binds these very different expressions together is the lyrical content that always revolves around faith and the existential thoughts it brings with it, or as stated on the band's Bandcamp-page: "The album's central theme is the disconnect between matter and soul, the dual nature of a body destined for the earth and a self that may not be."

The album sees the band including even more different styles in their music than before. This is one reason why I like them: they always experiment. While this could have confused their already complex sound further, I find that it knits the album together to make it a more coherent listening experience than their previous one. Most of the songs have the post-hardcore edge to them but generally stay in an overall indie rock mood, and are filled with various exciting details. In the vocal department the screams are only dominating on "Marrow", and they seem strewn more casually across the songs in general. On a song like "There Is Nothing Buried That Will Not Be Raised" this adds a cool dynamic, as it's one of the more up-beat songs with a somewhat poppy chorus but the pinch of screamed vocals and what sounds like a wailing string-instrument really spices it up. The more well-executed examples of the eclectic style of this record also include the dark and mellow indie song "Here There Are Lions", that still has a clear erratic edge from its guitar-riffs that are eerily contrasted with echoing glockenspiel tones in the verses. "Three And Twenty", my current favorite of the album, pulls the listener in with an irresistible guitar-riff that has all the danceable energy of a sentimental pop punk tune.

The album closer "The Distant Light" deserves a mention as well as it is without a doubt the most dissonant and chaotic of all the songs here, and also the one reminding me the most of their previous album. It's one of the songs to feature Jackie's confident singing the most, and she adds a brilliant contrast to the angsty, boyish singing that otherwise dominates the record. The production of the entire album is as raw as ever, but it is especially rough in the screamed parts of "The Distant Light". This is however also part of why I like the band, because the chaotic sound that comes out of it plays so well with the lyrical honesty of the songs. Whatever style they play in, they are able to convey feelings of existential fear and sadness in a way that is so brutally honest that it will punch the air right out of your lungs. And that feeling is no more apparent than when the dissonance is overwhelming and the production almost cuts your ears.

Having said this, it might make sense that all the songs I've singled out so far are the ones that sound the roughest, and I don't doubt for a second that other people might prefer the calmer songs simply because the production has been kinder to them. Overall every song on the album is well-composed, the lyrics are entrancing and in spite of the dissonance the melodies can stick to your brain so firmly that you'll find yourself humming them on a lonely winter morning.


Download: Three And Twenty, Here There Are Lions, There Is Nothing Buried That Will Not Be Raised, The Distant Light
For The Fans Of: La Dispute, As Cities Burn, Manchester Orchestra, (early) Thrice

Release Date 01.10.2013

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