sun 26/05/2024

CD: Esben and the Witch - Wash the Sins Not Only the Face | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Esben and the Witch - Wash the Sins Not Only the Face

CD: Esben and the Witch - Wash the Sins Not Only the Face

Somewhat disappointing second album from Brighton Gothic sorts

Esben and the Witch mooching about their shadow-world

There is a distinct art to following up an album that established an artist. Of the many possible paths, perhaps the most astute is delivering a twist on what came before, similar enough to satisfy those that liked it but different enough to seem fresh.

Moby, for instance, successfully tweaked the sound of his multi-million-selling Play for the intriguing but accessible 18, whereas The Klaxons fluffed it completely when they followed up the fantastic Myths of the Near Future with what appeared to be a pastiche of it. Esben and the Witch, the gloom-rock trio from Brighton, drew attention with their startling, atmospheric 2011 debut Violet Cries but unfortunately their second outing veers towards The Klaxons’ error, ie, more of the same.

For scholars of music history and those with long memories, E&TW’s sound is comparable to long gone hippy Goth act All About Eve, but darker, tinted with the Cocteau Twins’ clanging guitar soundscaping and a pervasive dourness. The lyrics of singing bassist Rachel Davies are literary and opaque, conjuring uncanny imagery, and she sings them with a haunted mournfulness. The music, meanwhile, sometimes jangles quietly but on other occasions, such as the opening “Iceland Spar”, lays down attacking washes of distorted guitar. For all the well-crafted mustering of mood, there’s a distinct lack of memorable songs, riffs or hooks.

Despite its flaws, Wash the Sins Not Only the Face, a title drawn from an ancient Greek palindrome, has much to keep fans interested. “Deathwaltz” has a discernible drive and passion amid its shimmer, and the elegiac ballad “Putting Down the Prey” and downtempo plucked guitar loneliness of “The Fall of Glorietta Mountain” are both well worth a listen. Esben and the Witch may not deliver on the hopes and expectations fostered by their debut, but they do offer just enough to maintain their status as a band with potential.

Watch the video for "Deathwaltz"

For all the well-crafted mustering of mood, there’s a distinct lack of memorable songs, riffs or hooks

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters