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Bent Knee - Say So CD (album) cover


Bent Knee


Crossover Prog

3.88 | 173 ratings

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4 stars As I feared, Bent Knee's previous album, 2014's Shiny Eyed Babies--a masterpiece for the ages and one of my all-time favorite albums (#3)--has made it difficult for any future Bent Knee efforts to compare much less exceed the standards they set previously.

1. "Black Water Tar" (3:29) a top three song from me and a real grower as one listens repeatedly. (9/10)

2. "Leak Water" (4:41) the first of three or four consecutive songs that use a rather annoying violin/guitar scrape/pluck to establish a stark soundscape as well as a straightforward metronomic time signature. The song is good, the lyric interesting, but Courtney and crew may have taken this one too far (length, that is.) (9/10)

3. "Counselor" (5:51) this song has the impact, intensity and compositional cleverness that I expected to come from Bent Knee's "next" project. All band members are working at their highest capacity, full potential, on this one. And the lyrical content is uncomfortably edgy-awkward--just what I expect from Ben and Courtney. Fresh and innovative. Awesome! (9/10)

4. "Eve" (9:12) just never gets up and going--or takes too long to do so. BK's first attempt at an epic is a disappointment. (8/10)

5. "Transition" (0:49) is an awesome Dave Fiuczynksi-like guitar exercise in Asian microtones.

6. "The Things You Love" (6:12) seems to have some structural foundation in what feels like Chinese or SE Asian (Cambodia?) melodies--which is, to me, very much its strength. The gentler side of Courtney's voice matched with the strength of the large chorale work is an awesome trick--though the sections in which Courtney sings in her delicate voice are perhaps a bit too long. (9/10)

7. "Nakami" (5:20) contains a story and melodic sense fitting for stage and screen. A very welcome change of pace and style. I love the Japanese instrumental and melodic choices that are foundational to the song's first three minutes, but I LOVE the shift that occurs at 3:15 to the song's end. Stupendous! (10/10)

8. "Commercial" (3:44) represents the title quite well. There are lots of rapid fire bytes and bits, micro-tones, and discordant, chaotic, disruptive, disturbing--things that are so inherent to the basic fabric of modern society. (8/10)

9. "Hands Up" (5:40) is lyrically quite clever yet musically quite straightforward and rather unexceptional (by Bent Knee standards. This song reminds me of the songs from their debut album--trying to do much but somehow just not hitting the mark, not synchronized or hitting on all cylinders). (8/10)

10. "Good Girl" (6:43) is a slow, grungy, methodical, and spacious song which highlights the amazing musical chemistry and sympathy between Bent Knee co-founders, guitarist BEN Levin and vocalist CourTNEY Swain--and the work in the mixing room by VINCE WELCH is nothing short of astounding. This band is so talented! (9/10)

Some of my general impressions after listening to these songs over the past few weeks are conjuring up some of the (few) negative comments I've read by reviewers of Bent Knee's previous work, particularly the reference to the dynamic rollercoaster that the band subjects the listener to: it is sometimes difficult to stay with the band with such frequent and sudden vacillations between extreme loud and extreme soft; it requires a listener to be a) myopically focused on the music (to no other distraction) and b) incredibly tolerant of such dynamism. Whereas with Shiny Eyed Babies it is almost natural and joyful to remain so focused, with this album it is . . . more work; the journey that Shiny Eyed Babies took me on was so engaging, so exciting, so energizing, emotional, and authentically personal that it has never been an issue to tune in, give my full attention, and stick with it. I want to. I can't help myself. From start to finish. This album offers no such pull, no consistent bond of affection and awe--well, maybe some awe, but not the excitement and empathic connection.

Awesome album cover and design!

Later addendum (7/31016): It's been a couple months now that I've spent with Say So. My appreciation and enjoyment of all of the songs have increased however I will not change any of my ratings for I am of the same opinion as to their place among the scale. This album, while polished and intricately detailed in its construction, is not the shocking, bare-bones masterpiece that Shiny Eyed Babies was.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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