Typically when a band has a self titled album in the middle of their career a change is taking place–a re-imagining, perhaps or a return to roots. Deftones is something of a return to roots. Since I loved White Pony’s diversity so much that’s a little disappointing for me, and yet while there aren’t as many interesting sonic ideas, the songwriting is still top notch and there are some really catchy and clever ideas too. The first song, “Hexagram” is a very heavy (and very screamy) song. And although the guitars during the verse are bright and ringing (nods to alt rock) this song is all about being heavy (the vocals seems like Chino Moreno’s throat is literally shredding as he songs). “Needles and Pins” has a cool complex drum patter (Abe Cunningham, fabulous) and the guitars (Stephen Carpenter, also fabulous) are staggered and interesting. And when the bass really comes in on counterpoint (Chi Cheng, doing some amazing stuff on the bass), the song is far more complex than the screamed heavy chorus might indicate.
“Minerva” has all of the trappings of a hit–a big chorus in a major key, and great verses. And yet, the song’s production is very claustrophobic (it kind of has a Tool feel). That doesn’t detract from the song at all, but it’s interesting that they would take something that could have easily been huge and yet made it a little less user friendly. “Good Morning Beautiful” has some really heavy guitars (especially in the chorus) but the vocals are kind of soaring here–more of that contrast adding up to something wonderful.
After the heavy onslaught of these songs, “Deathblow” slows things down. The guitar and bass are slow and kind of stretched out(and sound great together). They really let Chino’s voice show off. “When Girls Telephone Boys” is a heavy blast from the start. And like a lot of these songs the distortion might actually be a little too much–it kind of makes the song less pleasant than it might be–which is obviously intentional. “Battle-axe” opens with a mellow guitar intro (not unlike Metallica’s “One”) but the verses immediately introduce the heavy guitars again.
And yet, just as this albums seems like it will be all heavy and relentless, the band throws in “Lucky You” a song with electronic trip hop drums and effects. It is a creative song and quite interesting, it just seems so odd to throw this in almost all the way at the end of the disc. It stays moody throughout with layers of vocals and guitars. But “Bloody Cape” snaps you out of that with a pummeling guitar intro, although as with White Pony, the verses open up with some interesting guitar sounds making this song more than it seems at first. But make no mistake, this is a punishing, pummeling song by the end. “Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event” throws another curveball, though. It opens with a slow piano riff and stays as a slow ballad (complete with gentle percussion and washes of sound).
The disc ends with “Moana” probably the most conventional (which is not a bad thing) song on the record. It doesn’t have the heavy downtuned riffs, just big guitars and Chino’s whispering voice. So in some ways this album is a disappointment–especially coming after the experiments of White Pony. And yet the album is not un-experimental it is simply experimenting within a much smaller genre pallete. I’d read that it seemed like this album came before White Pony, and it does, as if they were stepping back from their crazier impulses. But the quality of the songwriting is till strong.
[READ: February 28, 2013] “The Women”
I had started this story last month and then lost the magazine. I thought that maybe I could pick up where I left off, but it turned out I only remembered the part about the two women, not the main character, so I had to start over again.
The story is about Cecilia Normanton who grew up in the 1908s with her father but didn’t know her mother. Mr Normanton and his wife had a happy, laughter-filled marriage for two years and then she was gone (which in this case means she left–not that she died). The first section of the story talks a lot about Cecilia in her daily life–she was very pretty for her age but also very naive and she was permitted a rather carefree life.
Until she was sent to boarding school. Which she hated at first. Then she grew to like it and her father was relieved about that. The school is nice, she is well treated and she makes good friends Although she hates being forced to go to the field hockey games–especially since her least favorite person is on the team (and the team never loses).
At one game, two older women are watching–Cecilia noticed them at one previous game as well. She can’t figure out who they are–they’re not former students, they’re not for the other team, their presence is weird. And at that game they almost interact when Cecilia drops her watch and the women narrowly avoid stepping on it, but really there is no connection.
Nevertheless, the narrative follows the women as they return from the game by train. We learn about their lives and their history together–they used to work together and call each other by their last names. (more…)