Stereo Subversion Album Review: Marriages’ Kitsune
Kitsune, the Japanese word for fox or fox spirit, is a fitting title for Marriages’ debut. Foxes are multitudinous creatures, tricksters, sly and carnivorous, but also protectors and companions. In many Japanese folk tales they regularly take on human form and in other Eastern folk tales, they are more often spirits.
The nether regions, the realms between solidity and spirituality, is where Kitsune reigns. Eager and majestic, album opener “Ride In My Place” slips in on a bed of menacing bass and effects-drenched guitar and continues it’s sin-soaked pulse as the band moves from the low-end of the frets to the higher ones. Seamlessly the tempo slows as the songs morph from the effects of “Ride” into the ephemeral “Body of Shade.” The vocals are sparse and buried and there’s a gothic and androgynous quality that singer Emma Ruth Rundle delivers—possibly from having the vocal lines double-tracked with manipulated voices. But on “Ten Tiny Fingers” Rundle shows her prowess, snaking her way effortlessly around a Pornograhy-era guitar line and some thundering floor-tom drumming from Dave Clifford.
“Pelt” runs like a dark river out from “Ten Tiny Fingers,” soaking up all the reverb and atmosphere for miles around and building to something explosive and head-pounding with “White Shape.” If “Pelt” is the build-up, the potential energy, then “White Shape” is all released energy turned into white heat. It’s a pounding moment of sheer ferocity; a tangled mess of fuzz bass, arena-sized sound, and enough aural momentum to hypnotize a snake charmer collide before the comedown of “Part the Dark Again.”
Given that Marriages is 3/5ths of the heavy, post-rock band Red Sparowes, it’s no surprise that the core rhythm section can maneuver their way through a tangle of psych-out noise. But most surprising is just how accessible Kitsune is as a whole – back to front it’s a gothic dream that treads the territory of early Cure mixed with the post-metal dynamics of Pelican. Not every track is memorable (“Ten Tiny Fingers” and “Ride In My Place” are really the only songs accessible out of context), but in succession the songs hit like an atom bomb: powerful, lingering and devastatingly beautiful. Not every band can craft songs as heavy and simultaneously delicate as these, but their weight is a gift. - by Scott Eisenberg