My Brightest Diamond - A Thousand Shark’s Teeth
Record Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
Release Date: June 17, 2008 (US)
The illustrious My Brightest Diamond (which is driven by the mastermind that is Shara Worden) is back, and delivering some of the most innovative, quirky music you’re bound to hear this year. A Thousand Shark’s Teeth finds the band thinning the indie-rock presence of their 2006 debut Bring Me the Workhorse in favor of more experimentation and instrumentation (don’t be surprised when you hear everything from a harp to a marimba to a vibraphone on this album). While many bands would crumble under the sheer burden of such musical density, My Brightest Diamond shines (pun intended).
From the opening seconds of the album, listeners can tell something great is in the works. A glimmering electric guitar line builds in by gradation on “Inside a Boy,” ushering in Worden’s eerie, cryptic opening verse, “Inside a boy / I found a universe.” The song crescendos at the 1:40 mark, when Worden sings, “We are stars colliding / Now we crash / Like lightning into love,” over crashing percussion, and begs to be listened to as a live performance. Worden’s focus shifts from grandiosity to tenderness in “The Ice & The Storm,” where she asserts to a lover, “I want to love you loosely / So nothing is stopping me from receiving / From giving out / I want a storm to blow it out / I want to shake myself / And turn my heart inside out.”
Eerie yet beautiful, “Apples,” kicks in with a jangling rhythm layered over a bouncy marimba beat, suspenseful strings, and playful vocals, and is the most experimental song on the album. Everything slows down into soulful, bluesy balladry in “From the Top of the World.” Worden’s voice reaches a richness not yet witnessed, especially when she peaks, singing, “And find out what we felt for it / How we felt for it / How we felt for it.”
With one breathy “oh,” Worden breathes life into “To Pluto’s Moon,” an ethereal, atmospheric track laden with lyrics that relate images of outer space to feelings of loss and pensive loneliness (“How I tired to catch you while / You ran ahead of me / I lassoed Mars / To see if you were hiding there / But you’d already ran past Jupiter / To Pluto’s moon / And my rope won’t reach that moon”). “Like a Sieve” once again makes great use of the marimba, and leads perfectly into “The Brightest Diamond.” The jazzy, playful instrumentation complements Worden's inspired lyrics, and the last stanza brings the album full circle from “Inside a Boy,” when Worden sings, “Reaching through the space between / Your universe and mine / A warm light shines / And will until all breath and sigh / Expend, expend.”
While the enormous variety of instrumentation does keep things interesting (to say the least), it is Worden’s voice that drives the album. She has the ability to transition from a soft purr (“Ice and Storm”) into a passionate belt (“Inside a Boy”) then back into a husky, bar-room-voiced hush (“If I Were Queen”) within a moment’s notice; not to mention the fact that she intentionally adopts an Icelandic accent (think Bjork), which adds an entirely new layer of mysticism and allure to every word that passes her lips.
I do not mean, however, to belittle the album’s powerful instrumentation. Interestingly, this album, which was originally meant to be solely a string + Worden affair, sports no less than twenty different instruments throughout the 46-minute voyage. Apparently, these songs have been in the works for years; even since before Bring Me the Workhorse. Due to her purported displeasure with their sound, she began tweaking the songs, adding and changing sounds until the songs morphed into their current forms. The meticulous attention to detail is readily apparent; each successive listen reveals new and exciting elements that went unnoticed in previous listens.
A Thousand Shark’s Teeth is a concentrated blast of pure musical genius. It is visceral yet controlled. It is intelligent yet still uncontrollably passionate. Most importantly, its unique blend of styles, ranging from Classical to Indie Rock, makes it the kind of innovative work that can change the face of the music world.
It's good but not as good as this review makes out to be, imo. I thought with all the instrumentation talk they'd play a bigger role than just filling up the soundscape, all the compelling melody comes from the vox. To be fair though all I heard from this CD was "Inside A Boy" from the myspace, though I didn't find it as 'big' as the reviewer did.
Good review though, it sells the record pretty hard. I just don't agree with it.