Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Fatal Gift

An anxious, urgent and vital meditation on the hollowness of material promises.

Metric released an album, ‘Pagans In Vegas’, in 2015 and this year Broken Social Scene make their long-awaited return with ‘Hug of Thunder’. But we’ve been waiting for another solo record from one of the voices behind the Canadian collective and the band’s frontwoman, Emily Haines, for over ten years. Eleven years on from ‘Knives Don’t Have Your Back’ though, Emily is back with another Soft Skeleton record, ‘Choir of the Mind’. Hearing the hushed piano tones at the beginning of lead single ‘Fatal Gift’, it’s easy to draw a direct comparison to the subtle, stripped-back nature of ‘Knives’. Whereas the songs on Emily’s first Soft Skeleton outing more often than not contained their lamentations to that sole combination of keys and voice (with a few dramatic strings and flourishes here and there), ‘Fatal Gift’ is much more expansive, blossoming into a tense, propulsive indie-dance number with squalling guitar riffs. Not that Emily’s subject matter has become any less introspective and soul-searching. She says herself that “we all pursue symbols of achievement, but utopian material promises are hollow”. That sentiment is echoed, quite literally, in the refrain of “the things you own, they own you”, which reverberates hauntingly at the climax at the track, imprisoning itself in a seemingly infinite loop similarly to the cage of aspirational materialism it references. Increasingly anxious, it’s a track that feels more pressing as it morphs into its various forms without ever detracting from its core message.

Tags: Reviews, Listen

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