Esben and the Witch- Violet Cries [Album Review]

March 7, 2011
 Brighton has its own grips with musical reality, offering festivals, gigs and throwing out talented bands that have since gripped the rest of the UK.   
 Another band hailing from this seemingly picturesque town and putting their own unique twist on their tales is 3 piece indie/distended dark gothic band Esben and the Witch. The last few years have been a testament to the band’s continuing work load, following the formation in 2008 a self released EP titled 33 was presented in 2009 and gained critical acclaim, this lead for the band to sign to Matador Records a short year ago, and through that label the band on the final day of January 2011, released their debut album Violet Cries.
 This 10track album immediately upon listen will transport you to a dark/ hazy state outside of reality drifting you along in gloomy dormant condition. The record in its entirety is pure haunting goth pop. Working within a very mocked genre and at times you can still hear that local goth/electronic band you always seem to come across at the occasional gig but Esben and the Witch have made a record which can break through that goth tag and justify their creativity.
 Opening track “Argyria” provides a slow and mellow progression of eerie vocals, a spooky build up of oohs and ahhs besides an empty drum beat continue to build an atmospheric and moving approach to the track for a few minutes before a sudden tempo change, the layered vocals then blended with a faster drumbeat and a demanding riffs carries the arrangement into a crushing bittersweet  finale, introducing you in the start of this violet cries voyage.
 Tracks such as “Marching” as you can expect provide that marching beat clotted with electronic pulse, dark riffs and lyrics all resonating in a substantial amount of reverb and as the track continues to plod along with the howling cries of front woman and vocalist Rachel Davies it abruptly finishes holding that need for more from the 3 piece.
 “Light Streams” injects an overall further electronic and progressive feel for the band which tones down that heavy gloom that hangs over the record and also highlights Davies vocals more so than previous tracks leading up to this, her haunting voice is regularly compared to that of Florence Welch.
 And from this as the album digresses it does offer a more upbeat approach with tracks such as “Eumenides” which may start a little droney but this is forgotten when it jumps onto a dance beat and provides an electronic sounds cape impression.
 Like with many EP’s and albums the point of their being is a coherent  journey, or to tell a story, each track flows effortlessly into the next. And Violet Cries has the same foray, making it pointless and difficult to just pick individual tracks to listen to at random. Its best absorbed in one taking.
 The album was mixed by Rodaidh McDonald, whose reputation is perceived with his recent work producing The XX’s debut album, with that now in mind you can really hear some similar sounds carried through from The XX’s chilling composition into Violet Cries, very similar chords and that distinctive echo on the drumbeats. However this works in the band’s favour. Despite the record being hyped to endow a medieval impression, it’s simply a stand out melodramatic effort fused with subtle modernity. It’s post-rock, it’s gothic, it’s electronic, something that could be made into something very bad, the band have excelled their skills and created a lasting record.
Same review also streaming via altsounds here-

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