The Devil in Outer Space: An Operetta
[Rating: 3 stars]
The maiden listen to the new album by Strangled Darlings is a bit disconcerting. Tackling this music is almost the sonic equivalent of reading an investigative piece published in “The New Yorker.” The intricate artistry, generally created with the most basic language and tools, makes you feel like the dunce who may or may not understand the brilliant nuances.
The best advice is to dive right into The Devil in Outer Space: An Operetta and just enjoy. You can’t sidestep the layers of the music — created by multi-instrumentalists George Veech (mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo, vocals) and Jessica Anderly (cello, violin, saw, vocals) who added Sharon Cannon on violin and Jolie Clausen on percussion for this album – so why even try? Start by getting into the acoustic groove created with “Wondermaker” and enjoy how Veech’s desolate, rough-edged vocals contrast with the sound that grows to include cello. Before you know it, you’ll settle into a nice groove as the alt-country-tinged pluck lead into “Tears of Akhmatova.” As you begin to understand the depth of the lyrics on “The Devil in Outer Space,” don’t be surprised if you get into the almost on-the-verge-of-fully-rocking-out drums that bring it all home. By the time you get to the album’s final song “Sail Along,” and the lyrics “Well, the cancer’s back, it’s the simple fact, that make me reach for a beer,” you’ll feel this was a sonic journey well worth taking.
Strangled Darlings are one of the few folk duos that deftly mix genres, emotions and observations to not only share what they’re thinking, but help you better clarify your own impressions. Isn’t that what great music is all about?