Tuesday, January 19, 2010

review: Marionette Facing You

Facing You
Self-Released, 2009
Marionette: "Facing You"

Review by Brian Tucker

There’s nothing temperamental or self-effacing about the first full-length from Richmond's Marionette. Facing You plays out beautifully, like a thorny night of sleep interrupted by threads of a person’s bemused and amusing life. This emotional ride is supported by the album’s atypical construction where songs are built on ideas, not hooks. It’s about tempo, melody and mood. It’s is an emotional album, one that induces feeling because it’s simply drowning in music that is tangible, sonic and well-paced. Singer and drummer Kevin Cornell compliments the band, and vice-versa. There is a connection between his vocal sound and what the band is creating that is quite fitting, even as it teeters at times on pleasurable melancholy and brazen frustration – mostly as interjections and not elongated themes.

In conception and delivery Facing You is absolutely striking, heavy on driving rhythm from Marshall O’Leary’s keys to Cornell’s up-tempo drumming. It’s a world of sound, built on ambiance from varying genres. There are strong ideas built from multiple layers and textures - a gentle bell, a sound bite or a crunching guitar riff injected at just the right moment. It’s also the juxtaposing of Cornell singing and Kerri Helsley’s ethereal vocals.

"Four Voices" is an example of the band using straightforward melodies and uncomplicated playing - fusing them together to make one mountain of a song. It strides along and then showered with Adam Rose’s guitar and O’Leary’s lilting keys. Similar could be said of ‘Facing You’ which makes great use of horns. ‘Disappearing Act’ is tedious and creeping, graced with Helsley’s cooing vocals. ‘Orchid’ is a haunting carriage ride where Cornell sings like whispers in a hallway and Helsley gives it an icy, albeit dangerous, vocal quality. "All You Need" and "Wavering" give Facing You the explosion it needs – the former a driving, hectic track and the latter serving as a chant that explodes magnificently by song’s end. The album closer, "Over the Radio" is epic, a fitting finale to a moving album of material. Facing You feels seamless, one that could be viewed or mistaken for one long song about the ebb and flow of emotions and sights in the mind’s eye.

Marionette plays elegantly moody and emotional music with a variety of sounds and instrumentation. The material is dreamy, textured, haunted and methodical. With Facing You the band delivers a complex album comprised of ethereal song construction and unexpected mood enhancement. Marionette bring much to the table, and seemingly never too much too handle.

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