Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Roads? Where She's Going She Won't Need Roads.

Marnie Stern -- This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That

I cannot be all these things to you/It's true” she sings, that oddly childlike voice straining to be heard over the electric crackle of ‘Transformer’. You’d almost say she makes it sound easy as she finds gaps in the noise in which to shout "The future is yours, so fill this part in", but nothing sounds easy on a Marnie Stern record. These twelve tracks are science experiments, attempts to understand the rush of new guitar knowledge that Stern discovered on her debut album. As such, there are fewer ecstatic revelations here, but listen to the way that obtuse guitar fragments joyously fail to cohere on ‘Shea Stadium’ or layer into something both dense and brittle in ‘Clone Cycle’ and tell me what you hear. Are these vain displays of virtuosity or acts of self-creation in sound? Album closer 'The Devil Is In The Details' answers this question in a typically giddy fashion, with Stern offering herself up to the world and letting it see her change from moment to moment, guitar line to guitar line. "The devil is in the details/If you are ready" she sings, and she's right. How can Marnie Stern be everything to you? She doesn’t seem sure, but she’s ready to try if you're willing to keep up. Soon Stern will be invincible, a chimerical machine made out of layered vocals and art rock histrionics, but right now it’s thrilling to hear her struggle to master the strange energies she’s unleashed.

(Thanks to Sean and Matthew for the hook up! Image stolen from Rachel Warner Photography.)

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