Kristina Esfandiari is primarily known as the vocalist of the excellent doom act King Woman, where her thunderous vocal performances cut through a thick veil of heavy riffs. However, there is a different side to Esfandiari’s creativity and that is what she partly explores with her side project. With Miserable, Esfandiari presents a more personal and vulnerable viewpoint, which is illustrated through the multiple releases of the project in the Halloween Dream EP and on the band’s sole full-length Uncontrollable. Sargent House now puts together two of Miserable most potent releases in the Dog Days EP (originally released in 2015 and the brand new Loverboy EP.
With Miserable Esfandiari revels in a field of hazy, dreamy doom rock. The Loverboy EP immediately delivers this attitude, as the title track takes on a lighter shoe gaze characteristic while holding back on the use of overwhelming effects. This aspect is further highlighted with “Gasoline”, which borrows more from the heavier indie rock scene, constructing a sentimental cloud that hovers over the structures of the track and paints the soundscapes in brilliant, distorted colors. Yet, it is the overall rock mentality of Esfandiari that drives the record, and despite the ethereal sense Loverboy does not tilt too much on the dream pop territory, but stays firmly on an old school rock direction which bestows more power and urgency to the progressions.
Label: Sargent House
Despite the pleasant and melodic tone of Loverboy, there appears to be quite a dark characteristic looming about the record. This essence is particular prominent in the case of the cleaner, sparser parts where the towering bass lines of the title track lay down some ominous lead work. The descent into this abyss is truly complete in “Cheap Ring” which features a strange neo-noir ambiance, with the fumey soundscapes creating an infernal ambiance. The lead work aids in that respect, injecting the melodies with a devilish characteristic while the sparser instrumentation and arrangement of the track provide a very nice minimal representation.
This is also where the slight disconnect with the second EP of this collection, Dog Days, becomes more prominent. The two releases share many characteristics and they follow a similar modus operandi, especially in terms of the heavy ethereal sound. Dog Days tilts further towards the dream rock domain, an essence that is enhanced by a more lo-fi and garage inspired attitude. “Hotel” follows that motif and at the same time allows the dream sense to take over the rock side resulting in a more emotional and subtle moment. Miserable follow this trajectory further unleashing the downbeat and intimate “Kiss”, which sees a similar minimal presence first presented in “Cheap Ring”, but instead of the infernal quality here a more melancholic tone reigns.
Where Miserable thrive due to Esfandiari’s ability to put down some fantastic hooks. Throughout the record she unleashes some pure ear candy. It is something that is embedded throughout the record, projecting more power and emotion to the tracks, and coupled with Esfandiari’s fantastic vocal delivery the result is simply majestic. The only dissonance of the collection is the switch between the two EPs. Even though individually they are both very strong, the transitions feels a bit disjointed, from the darker sound of Loverboy to the more dreamy essence of Dog Days. Still, it does present a nice insight regarding the evolution of Miserable’s sound, and judging by Loverboy we can expect many more interesting things from Esfandiari.