Esben And The Witch Violet Cries
Esben And The Witch struck its most dramatic ice-queen pose on the doom-minus-the-gloom single “Marching Song.” On the rest of its Matador debut, Violet Cries, the Brighton band never summons the same apocalyptic fury. Instead, it contents itself with layering Rachel Davies’ dark, dramatic vocals over arpeggiating, post-rock guitars and minimalist electronic percussion like a more abstract Bat For Lashes. “Light Streams” nearly provides another dose of that delicious, goth-tinged tension in its downbeat finale, as muffled male vocals trade blows with Davies over atmospheric drums in the background and scratched-disc clicks and skips in the fore. Also strong is “Marine Fields Glow,” which evokes Cocteau Twins sans Robin Guthrie’s glassine guitar work, or a Zola Jesus more given to pessimism than punchiness. At least “Warpath” makes a stab at structure, with its haunted sonics providing spackle to fill the gaps in yet another simple, sleepy guitar line, but the pattern of temper tantrums and sulks that makes up Violet Cries eventually begins to feel like a substitution for songwriting. It’s difficult not to long for the more mature band that Esben And The Witch will hopefully become.