Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Old World Emily, Where Are You Now?

Mairead Case on Emily Haines' forthcoming LP, Knives Don't Have Your Back:

the packaging...is gold and perfect-bound and anatomically correct (atrium, ventricle, atrium, ventricle). i wish the lyrics themselves were equally exciting -- "maid needs a maid" fills the envelope a bit limply. sure, a man needs a maid, so does a woman, but the maid needs a union and you should make your own bed.

Knives does threaten to be a come-down for those of us still sugar-rushing on Metric circa Old World Underground and the adamantine synth-hump sparkle of "Dead Disco" and "Succexy." Back then the commentary was always as sharp as the Casio'd bass lines, whether in service to Haines' blatant politicking ("All we do is talk static split-screens/ as the homeland plans enemies") or straight-faced music crit biz-bashing ("Everything has been done/ La la la la la la la la la la la la.") Still, "Our Hell" discourages gloomy 2003 nostalgia-wallowing even as it smacks of piano-heavy Tamborello/Broken Social Scene collaboration fallout. And Haines' dagger survives mostly undulled--check out the eerie salvo of "Docor Blind," in which she opines "the lack of light/hollow sea/poison beaches/limousines/toothless dentists/cops that kill." If you listen hard enough you'll recognize the post-apocalyptic vocabulary of Old World Underground lurking underneath Knives' songwriterly slide toward maturity. The burn still beckons; the fire just doesn't spark as high.

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