Knifeplay - Animal Drowning Music Album Reviews

Knifeplay - Animal Drowning Music Album Reviews
With a mixture of shoegaze and dream pop, the Philadelphia band offers a dramatic soundtrack to dark introspection.

When TJ Strohmer started Knifeplay in 2015 as a solo bedroom project, it was an outlet for self-discovery and a way to dodge the college-to-soulless-desk-job pipeline. “We’re not being nurtured to discover ourselves in any type of way,” he would later explain of his desire to opt out of the system. Eventually, Strohmer expanded Knifeplay into a five-piece—with bassist Alex Stackhouse, guitarist John Klein, keyboardist Max Black, and drummer John Sciortino—fusing shoegaze and dream pop. On the Philadelphia band’s second album, Animal Drowning, Knifeplay balance dark introspection—untangling experiences of grief, abuse, and self-loathing—with empathy and patience.

On Animal Drowning, Knifeplay explore a sound not too distant from that of Godspeed You! Black Emperor: gloomy guitar drones, thundering percussion, and foreboding orchestral strings that quiver on the periphery. They tapped a number of collaborators to flesh out their vision, adding cello, violin, piano, and additional guitar throughout. And like the Canadian post-rockers, Knifeplay do their best to guide listeners past calamity toward the warm glow of hope. In “Nobody,” a strummed acoustic guitar persists despite the tower of fuzz crashing down; in “Cold Rain,” a full-bodied choir pushes back against guitar feedback, defiant in its stance. During the eight-minute “Untitled,” a handful of passages speak to perseverance amid turmoil, like Strohmer’s even-keeled falsettos during the loudest crescendos or the bright guitar that overtakes the drums during the song’s conclusion. These moments of tension are Knifeplay’s reminder that with enough friction, a match will eventually yield light.

While this textural songwriting style offers Animal Drowning its worn sandpaper feel, Strohmer’s lyrics give the music its weight. With the eternal wisdom of Tony Soprano as his guiding light, Strohmer sardonically tackles his conservative upbringing in rural Maryland on standout single “Promise”: “You’re born into this shit/And you are what you are.” His words float like airy soliloquies, contradicting the blown-out, almost doom-metal guitar behind him. Producer Jeff Ziegler further exaggerates these extremes, filtering them through a gauzy lens similar to the one he brought to A Sunny Day in Glasgow and the War on Drugs.

Each of the album’s 10 tracks explores a difficult moment in Strohmer’s life, however cryptic. He often utilizes repetition as a means of diluting his traumas, uttering phrases again and again until they begin to sound unfamiliar. Elsewhere, he omits backstory entirely in favor of focusing on one specific detail, as though reiterating its unimportance until he believes it himself. On the piano ballad “Ryan Song,” he creates his own shorthand for the oft-quoted aphorism, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”: “Failure held its mirror up and teased you.” Strohmer’s through with letting his old wounds debilitate him, and these songs suggest you do the same.

Animal Drowning intertwines these grand crescendos and lyrics of self-growth into an emotional reckoning that intends to overwhelm. At one moment, someone’s screaming while a saxophone wails in the background. At another, a brisk piano melody is overpowered by distorted guitars that verge on apocalyptic. Listening to the album can feel like cave diving: It’s a series of narrow paths and dark, water-filled rooms that are as gorgeous as they are dangerous. The album’s most claustrophobic songs—“Promise,” “Hearts,” “Cold Rain”—are its most rewarding listens. Knifeplay are pushing the shoegaze revival to embrace the jagged textures of experimental rock, the earnestness of emo, and the delicacy of string compositions without any pretension. If Knifeplay began as an outlet for self-discovery, Animal Drowning renders interiority in vivid, four-dimensional terms.

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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.
Knifeplay - Animal Drowning Music Album Reviews Knifeplay - Animal Drowning Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 16, 2022 Rating: 5


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