Saturday, February 28, 2009

Neko Case: Middle Cyclone

Artist: Neko Case
Album: Middle Cyclone
Date Released: March 3, 2009
Genre: indie rock, alt-country
Rating: 8.8

Review: I usually assume the worst whenever a highly anticipated album comes out, and even though Neko Case is one of my all-time favorite artists, I couldn't help but be pessimistic about her follow-up to the fantastic Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. A twisted and dark side of me didn't want to like this album. Perhaps all the hype got to me, or that I thought the whole 'recording the album in barn' seemed a big gimmicky. It might have even been the over-the-top album cover.

Or maybe it was because she's not my little secret any more; I'm having to share Neko with the tone-deaf know-nothing masses.

But try as I might I can't not like this album.

In fact, I love it. I have fallen in love with Neko all over again. Middle Cyclone doesn't match Fox Confessor for its track-after-track brilliance, but there are several absolute gems on this album: the pop-country-rock flavored "This Tornado Loves You", the hauntingly retro "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" (despite the awful lyrics), the title track, "Magpies to the Morning," and the melodic "The Pharoahs" (which was composed with the help of The Sadies).

I'm overjoyed to say that Neko is still at the top of her game. She has never sounded more beautiful and her lyrics have never been stronger: In "This Tornado Loves You" she sings:

I have waited with a glacier's patience
Smashed every transformer with every trailer
'til nothing was standing
65 miles wide
Still you are nowhere
Still you are nowhere
Nowhere in sight

Middle Cyclone will fit in very well to what will eventually become a remarkable discography.

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