UTR045 | CD / LP | 13 tracks, 47 mins | October 2010
Music as the relief, yet also the reminder of the need for relief. If only there were some word that meant both cure and poison. 'New Love.' It's two words, but one title. New love is a cure for the heartbreak and jealousy of the past, but a beginning to a new obsession - the search to replace the old love.
This obsessive search radiates through the entire album. Freddy Ruppert's newest collaborative project is as much an emotional obsession as it is an obsession with sound. The new album is poppier, cleaner, more seductive, sweet, charming, but more bitter. The claustrophobic reverb from the last album has been replaced. The syrupy, entangling wash of sound has been hollowed out and exploded in size.
'New Love.' listens hollow, empty, endless. Like a spacious landscape, frightening in it's expansiveness. This landscape is populated at times sparsely, and at times densely, with a broader use of sounds - guitars, treated piano, glitched out rhythms and beats. The entire sonic experience neurotically crafted - an entire world hand-carved with complete surgical control over every sound.
Throughout the album, Ruppert's vocals feel pressed against you, almost uncomfortably close. And yet at the same time, you're left alone for a larger portion of the album. No longer is a voice constantly guiding you through the cacophony. Your sad, frantic companions leave you alone in shallow depressions that litter the album. Spaces between songs, spaces within songs, all harboring marshy pockets of sound. Small bogs, marring the poppier expanses of what seem like exuberant or triumphant anthems and fanfare.
"Chin Up" is an excellent example of this duality which seems to mimic the mood swings of frustration and relief in extended heartbreak. Roza Danilova's vocals play somewhat like Cyndi Lauper if she were doing the soundtrack to a suicidal, degenerate band of Goonies.
But as bleak and expansive as the new album is, the engine that propels it forward is obsession - an obsession over loss of love, over jealousy, over Ruppert's inability to move on from the past - and not simply a loss of love, but a love of loss. The vast sense of space in the album doubles the feeling of being on the outside of a relationship - of being the third unrequited member of a romance between a couple oblivious to your heartbreak - outside the feelings of someone who has, long ago, fallen out of love with you.
Maybe, in this way, the female collaborators on the album - Nika Roza Danilova of Zola Jesus and first-timer Yasmine Kittles of Tearist - materialise more as simulations, stand-ins or memories of lost loves than as simple musical partners. Roza Danilova's intense, operatic style and Kittles' softer, coquettish beckoning surround Ruppert as the core, writhing, masculine presence in an open, chaotic album.
Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. He's in there. Sneaking around. You'll find him. Adding percussion, wrap-around synths, extra-textures. Another male voice, most noticeably on the album's solid pop number "New Orleans". Just like new love, "New Orleans" offers the same yearning for the new, the change, that will turn life around. That refreshing spark, that promise of a new beginning.