Wares - Survival Music Album Reviews

On her second album as Wares, Cassia Hardy sings of rage, joy, and transformation on a dynamic and euphoric rock record. 

Survival means something very specific to Cassia Hardy. Her 2017 self-titled debut album as Wares chronicled her life as an artist and outsider in Alberta (aka Canada’s Texas, with all the oil money and conservative politicking that goes with it) and her conflicted relationship with her home city of Edmonton, ultimately concluding that its supportive music community makes it “a nice place, but I don’t want to die here.” Wares’ second album, however, homes in on a very specific part of that experience: her transition into a woman, and all the locker-room bullying, judgemental doctors’ visits, and self-doubt she endured along the way. The cover painting on Survival depicts a gender-ambiguous figure in a red dress lurching towards a radiant sun poking over the horizon, but still surrounded by a forest that seems to be pulling them back into the darkness. It’s the perfect visual distillation of an album that perpetually teeters between euphoric, new-day-rising affirmations and the inescapable specter of past traumas.
Hardy’s process of self-realization has run parallel to Wares’ transformation from an acoustic-guitar-slinging solo operation into a fiery indie-rock quartet with the fighting spirit of a young Titus Andronicus. On Survival, Hardy’s need for intimate connection is matched only by Wares’ desire to go over the top and burn it all down, rendering joy and rage as the same exorcising expression. Like a slingshot being pulled to its breaking point, the opening “Hands, Skin” ratchets up its tense atmosphere before blasting off into a double-timed punk sprint, its ecstatic, liberated energy undercut by Hardy’s grim account of a violent attack inflicted upon her. The album’s seismic centerpiece, “Surrender Into Waiting Arms,” presents the optimistic flipside to that narrative, of finding acceptance and possibly even love (“Jump for a chance at a better life/Give myself to one I desire!”). But the energy is equally unsettled, particularly when the song suddenly detours into a dramatic, doomy second act where Hardy’s amorous exclamations (“Kiss my lover in the sun/Feel their heart pressed between finger and thumb”) sound like they’re being shouted from the bottom of a well, suggesting that happiness is all just an unattainable fantasy.

Survival is Wares’ first release for venerable Vancouver imprint Mint Records, the label that introduced the world to the New Pornographers 20 years ago. There are echoes of that group’s maximalist power-pop in the steady motorik cruise of “Tether” and jubilant jangle of “Surface World,” but Wares are ultimately less concerned with craft than catharsis, no matter how messy it gets. Hardy’s irrepressible personality abounds even in the album’s more delicate moments, like the anti-capitalist dream-folk lullaby (and readymade COVID rent-strike anthem) “Jenny Says” and the devastating “Tall Girl,” which could pass for an early non-electro MGMT track, but with their hazy cosmic jive replaced by a regretful account of being too nervous and wary of strangers to chat up a potential soulmate.

By album’s end, Hardy has found enough strength and confidence in her identity to shift the lens away from her past and back onto the current state of her home province, where oil barons dominate with a blatant disregard for the environment and Indigenous land rights. “Fight like a dying species rejecting parasitic scum/Before everyone you love gets used up,” she screams with throat-ravaging desperation. By coming clean with her own struggles over the course of the record, Hardy shows that even the most formidable obstacles are surmountable. She’s alive; now it’s your turn.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Wares - Survival Music Album Reviews Wares - Survival Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, June 03, 2020 Rating:

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