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City and Colour - Little Hell Album Cover

City and Colour - Little Hell

Reviewed by
8.6
City and ColourLittle Hell
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: June 7, 2011
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Dallas Green is easily one of the most sophisticated musicians in the scene today. His main project, Alexisonfire, has proved to be one of the best aggressive bands around throughout the past decade. His acoustic side-project, City and Colour, proves he can create beauty on the other end of the spectrum, as well.

Back in 2008, Bring Me Your Love was a soft, ambient, and ultimately poignant release, perfect for a fall evening or cold winter night. Now three years later, Little Hell expands the sound of BMYL, mixing a few bells and whistles with a handful of upbeat tracks to craft the best record City and Colour effort to date, a record now fitting for summer nights.

At that, Little Hell is a dark ride through the night. Exploring the little hells and tribulations we all face each day, the record is ultimately a very cathartic and expressive ride, an escape from – and first into – the darkness that plagues everyone. Green expresses this throughout the title track, hauntingly repeating, “Will we get out of this little hell?” as the track comes to a close. It’s this eerie, recurring uncertainty and questioning that truly brings out the depth and beauty of Little Hell.

Although the record is at moments full of melancholy, it is expressed in upbeat ways often, as heard on the single “Fragile Bird.” Beginning with a reverberating guitar tone and synth, “Fragile Bird” is a haunting nightmare – a plunge into the depths of the fears accompanied by the night. The Southern, more country-tinged “Natural Disaster” also explores a different side of City and Colour, paced by soft drumming and an electric guitar. However, although it sounds upbeat and breezy, “Natural Disaster” may be one of the darkest moments of the record, as Green sings of a broken home.

Still, it’s the soft, stripped-down moments where Green truly shines, mainly due to the poignancy crafted in these moments. As Green sings, “Then there’s my father / He’s always looking on the bright side / Saying things like son, life just ain’t that hard / He is the grand optimist / I am the world’s poor pessimist,” the folky “Grand Optimist” proves to be the prime example of this. He continues saying, “I guess I take after my mother,” on what may be the most chilling moment on the record, with Green holding nothing back. Similarly, “O’ Sister” expresses this same type of brutal candidness. The words “My sister, what made you fall from grace / I’m sorry that I was not there to catch you” echo what may be the most vulnerable moment on Little Hell. With only the soft plucks of a guitar in the background, “O’ Sister” is without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking tracks yet.

Vocally, Green sounds better than ever this time around, as “We Found Each Other in the Dark” allows his soft chime to truly resonate, again proving his versatile skill as a vocalist. Musically, the expansion of City and Colour’s sound due to various instruments used and experimented with also demonstrates a new creativity throughout the record, most notably heard on “Weightless.” Cleary, it’s the combination of the unique and experimental instrumentation this time around with Green’s soaring vocals that truly envelops us in the darkness that is Little Hell.

The penultimate “Silver and Gold” is stripped-down to bare simplicity, only accompanied only by a soft guitar. As the sound of each string resonates over Green’s meek vocals, he sings of the disappearing of all things loved, while on the closing “Hope for Now,” Green expels “I’ve got a sickness pounding in my head / I’m at the mercy of the Gods / What would it take to live?” With only a soft piano melody supporting him before the final build-up, Green allows us to leave the darkness, singing of optimism and new hope as the record closes. After we leave the forebodingly beautiful place of Little Hell one thing is certain – this is City and Colour’s finest, most creative work to date.

Recommended If You LikeBring Me Your Love; Dallas Green; fall music/music to listen to at night

Listen ToWe Found Each Other in the Dark; Grand Optimist; O’ Sister

Additional Information
Track Listing:
1. We Found Each Other in the Dark
2. Natural Disaster
3. Grand Optimist
4. Little Hell
5. Fragile Bird
6. Northern Wind
7. O’ Sister
8. Weightless
9. Sorrowing Man
10. Silver and Gold
11. Hope for Now

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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 57
11:19 PM on 06/06/11
#2
dpatrickguy
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love this album
11:32 PM on 06/06/11
#3
trappedintime
Yea, you were right about me
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Great review. This album is so amazing! City & Colour never disappoint!
11:41 PM on 06/06/11
#4
aoftbsten
Go Buffs.
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Digging this album, great follow up to his sophomore effort.
11:52 PM on 06/06/11
#5
A Wild Pikachu!
:l6
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No way the lyrics on this record are a 9. No way. In fact, Grand Optimist and O' Sister are probably the two most glaring examples of Green's lyrical style killing what would otherwise be two very good songs.
11:54 PM on 06/06/11
#6
Ryan Gardner
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No way the lyrics on this record are a 9. No way. In fact, Grand Optimist and O' Sister are probably the two most glaring examples of Green's lyrical style killing what would otherwise be two very good songs.
Didn't even realize I rated them that high haha
11:57 PM on 06/06/11
#7
heyzombiehitler
has feelings
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"Fragile Bird" is my favorite song right now.
12:03 AM on 06/07/11
#8
Trick Nasty
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...no mention of Sorrowing Man? It's one of the best songs on the record.
12:10 AM on 06/07/11
#9
Ryan Gardner
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...no mention of Sorrowing Man? It's one of the best songs on the record.
Can't win em all
12:20 AM on 06/07/11
Trick Nasty
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I appreciate the modest, yet realistic score that you gave this album...but it's a damn shame that a lot of the reviews on this site are rated higher than something as good as this.
12:27 AM on 06/07/11
ImTheSheriff
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good review, and an awesome album. the grand optimist is a great track, i don't see how the lyrics ruin it or what the dude a few posts up said.
02:13 AM on 06/07/11
ilovesofie
was I good to you, wife of my youth
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Great album, although "The Grand Optimist" is my least favorite.
02:20 AM on 06/07/11
AdamChildress
Wondrous Oblivion.
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First sentence sums it up for me=)
02:36 AM on 06/07/11
ricky denim
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No way the lyrics on this record are a 9. No way. In fact, Grand Optimist and O' Sister are probably the two most glaring examples of Green's lyrical style killing what would otherwise be two very good songs.
Are you serious? I wouldn't say Grand Optimist is brilliant but O'Sister has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it live. I would say it's probably the strongest lyrically on the album actually. Each to their own though.
03:44 AM on 06/07/11
Mr. November
I won't fuck us over.
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No way the lyrics on this record are a 9. No way. In fact, Grand Optimist and O' Sister are probably the two most glaring examples of Green's lyrical style killing what would otherwise be two very good songs.
Whats wrong with the lyrics in those songs?

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