mon 22/07/2024

CD: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

CD: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Pretty much perfect second album from Alabama's best-kept secret

Stories told in two-minute bursts: Waxahatchee's Cerulean Salt

It could be Katie Crutchfield's voice: in the moment, its ragged timbre packs the punch of a cross-my-heart whispered secret. It could be the songwriting itself: stories half-told in two minute bursts, frank and funny and even contradictory the more you listen to the album as a whole. Or it could be some combination of the two that makes Cerulean Salt feel like an undiscovered treasure, a 33-minute mystery between you and your headphones.

Only it's not like that at all, because Crutchfield grew up fronting enough girl-punk bands for this to be old hat to her and this album is in fact her second released in the name of her lo-fi alter-ego Waxahatchee. The project is named for a creek in the songwriter's native Alabama (it makes a guest appearance, along with twin sister Allison, in the video for "Coast to Coast", below). And it's an apt one, given the prominent role childhood summers, reminiscences and loss of innocence play on the album, from the sneaking around on "Hollow Bedroom" to the perfectly-pitched obsessive romance of "Blue Pt. II".

The clean-living, summery pop vibe of that single draws immediate comparisons to the decidedly less clean-living - but just as summery, and almost as ragged - Best Coast. But it's an anomaly on an album that sneaks into darker lyrical territory ("I had a dream last night we had hit separate bottoms", on "Lively", being the most immediate example) than its simple melodies let on. Bass fuzz and punky hooks obscure the songs' pretty melodic lines: Crutchfield's isn't one of those voices that can cover a wide range of emotions, so it's the satisfying scuzz that stands between the slurred speech and tangled parts of "Lips and Limbs" and some Kimya Dawson-voiced nursery rhyme. Instead, Cerulean Salt is cryptic, sweet, bruised and pretty much perfect.

Bass fuzz and punky hooks obscure the songs' pretty melodic lines


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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