Land of Talk, 'Cloak and Cipher' (Saddle Creek)

8
Cloak and Cipher
Critical Mass
Label: Saddle Creek

by William Goodman

Written and recorded during frontwoman Elizabeth Powell's recovery from a vocal hemorrhage, this Montreal band's second full-length expands the abrasive post-hardcore and tender, tuneful poles of 2007's Some Are Lakes with help from members of Arcade Fire, Stars, and Besnard Lakes. "Goaltime Exposure" pairs dissonant riffs with cooing oohs and aahs, while "Color Me Badd" builds dramatically with horns and strings. But "Quarry Hymns" is the arresting climax, as Powell howls powerfully ("How deep is this hole I feel under?") against steely ambient guitar.

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