Tuesday, June 10, 2008

a thousand shark's teeth by my brightest diamond

I’m just going to throw this one out there: Sufjan Stevens is a gateway drug. It’s true. Mothers, you may think it’s cute watching your child pour though the liner notes of kitschily-named albums paying homage to various Midwestern states...but it’s a slippery slope from the appreciation of a glockenspiel and oboe duet to an all out Asthmatic Kitty addiction.

You’ve been warned.

My Brightest Diamond's (nee Shara Worden) sophomore album, A Thousand Sharks Teeth (out June 17th), is the latest weapon in the Asthmatic Kitty war on radio friendly apathy. Although it's more Clear Channel's loss than hers1 -- this album is absolutely beautiful. Again, Shara clearly asserts herself as one of the best voices in the music industry: an edgier, less American Idol-friendly chanteuse you can still bring home to your mother. Gothic in the traditional sense, behind her classically trained voice there's the spires and arches of a million cathedrals.

Instrumentally, the songs on A Thousand Shark's Teeth are more layered and haunting than her 2006 debut, Bring Me the Work Horse. Rather than the straight forward orchestral pop of her debut, this collection is more ambitious and experimental. The scope has been significantly widened, and for the most part successfully so. Songs like "Like a Sieve" are more atmosphere than song, as Shara's voice floating above a delicate percussion track. In the French-influenced track "Black & Costaud," her voice becomes another instrument, as the distant bilingual muttering and wailing is occasionally overwhelmed with sinister Danny Elfman-like scoring, an effect that is equal parts enticing and chilling.

In the midst of such overwhelming musicality, it's difficult, almost overwhelming, to pick out lyrics. When discernible, they cover a spectrum previously explored in Bring Me The Work Horse. The world is a dark and terrifying place yes lovers leave violently and suddenly ("To Pluto's Moon"), but there are touches of magical realism, tickling like a thousand shark's teeth ("Good By Forever"). However mundane or surreal the topic, Shara has proven she's got the staying power to explore similar themes for many albums to come. Hey, it seems to be working for Sufjan.

Live, My Brightest Diamond (Shara and friends) are not to be missed. Watch out for them on tour now and throughout the summer.

1. I majored in film...not finance.

(photo my brightest diamond: Julien Bourgeois)

mp3: "Inside a Boy" by My Brightest Diamond

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