This diverse nine track album is full of surprising instrumentation and creatively constructed phrasing and lyrics. How to Die In The North opens and closes with mellow piano/synth filled indie pop opera tracks and keeps that vibe throughout, even if it’s quite subtle at times. Bella Union, a label with an impressive portfolio of signed artists (Andrew Bird, M. Ward, Fleet Foxes, Vetiver) was smart to pick up this third LP from US born and Manchester based artist, Brian Christinzio. His first release since 2007, Christinzio has progressed past gentle, funky ballads and successfully dipped his toes into more experimental electronic sounds and interesting percussive choices, while only improving on his innocent and clever vocal melodies. His voice has a crooning, high pitched quality that reminds me of a band that would be playing slow rock ballads at an 80’s under the sea themed prom. But somehow that vibe really, really works. This is some groovy stuff, y’all. How To Die In The North will be on my mind well into 2015. This entire album deserves some lovin’.
Notably rad tracks:
“Just Because I Love You” – Deep hitting bass melodies, and well placed reverb on the guitar phrased with lush vocals.
“Grim Cinema” – This unexpected upbeat psychedelic surf rock track is one of my favorites. Unique instrumentation from xylophone and low-fi synth. Very rad. Very groovy. I’m almost too into this.
“Good Morning Headache”- A 30 second electronic intro with an abrupt ending is abrasive but relates well into the oozy reverb on guitar mixed with the back and forth of Christinzio’s falsetto and a female voice. Rock opera esque and dramatic but with tangible, good vibes.
“Atom Bomb” – By and far my personal favorite. This delicate yet grandiose track opens with the lyrics, “I’m a cannibal and you’re a mother, we both start shaking and we run for cover. Man on a string, swinging from the atom bomb.” Strange, intriguing stuff. Creeping blues riffs on piano and bass are skillfully written. Delicate, muted and beautifully brief horns and interesting percussion work throughout.
“Lay Me On The Floor” – A catchy, almost 6 minute trip of a song. This is one for those upbeat, strange days. Animalistic, with plodding bass drum kicks and bongo. It almost gets lost in a cyclical synth fade out around 2:30 but then comes back and catches you in the gut with a sweet ass breakdown at 3:25. Perfectly placed distortion throughout. Be warned of a strange, but, in my opinion, well done electronic outro at 5:40 that you may want to fade out.
Recommended tracks: “Just Because I Love You,” “Grim Cinema,” “Good Morning Headache,” and “Atom Bomb”
Recommended if you like: The Pixies, Mac Demarco, (older) Radiohead, Foxygen