With one album, The Human Cry, already in their discography, Muscle & Marrow are now releasing their sophomore full-length, Love. The band consists of Kira Clark (vocals and guitars) and Keith McGraw (drums), and has already showed an experimental outlook amidst their sludge sound on The Human Cry. Slow pace and tormenting riffs dominated the scenery, but the patterns and repetition aided in pointing the music towards a Swans-ian dimension. Love, however, sees the band dwelling more bravely in this domain, not only maintaining their hypnotizing structures, but including electronic elements reminiscent of The Knife (and especially Fever Ray.)
This leaning towards the electronic area comes to enhance the psychedelic edge of the music, with the synths able to craft intriguing motifs through the tracks. Adding more depth in the opening track, or a more menacing injection alongside the application of distortion in “Black Hole,” Muscle & Marrow morph through their various manifestations. It is also a testament to how easily the band can switch the tone of their music through the album.
On one hand, there is the ethereal tone, mainly derived from the excellent vocal work, granting a majestic element to the music. “Sacs of Teeth” is an example of that mentality, working alongside the heavier riffs that the band conjures, or between the sludge bursts in “Light.” It can still be applied without any weight from the guitars, as it becomes apparent in “Bereft Body” or switch the vibe to an ethereal doom moment, as is the case with the darker “The Drooling Mouth.” On the other hand, as a counterweight to the ethereal vision of the band, is a more mysterious tonality, roaming into darker domains. The change of scenery, to a place surrounded by darkness, works on the band’s favor, showcasing their adventurous mentality. “Black Hole” sees them taking a deep plunge into the mystical depths of their music, while the complete surrender to ritualism in “Womb” finds them undertaking a more minimal route.
Even though there is a healthy amount of doom in their work, and the band does lean towards a sludge perspective in their guitar parts – those are used more as an additional flavor in Love, and not so much as the foundation of their tracks. The heavy setting and pace of the tracks radiates from that aspect of the band; however, the structure of their works is more fluid and abstract. Based around a melodic element, Muscle & Marrow do not let a single melody go to waste in their work; from the moment the opening track “My Fear” kicks the album off, to the finishing lines of “Light,” the melodies are able to give a more personal tone to the album. It works similarly with Clark’s vocals, which see a tremendous range. Her versatility is insane, being able to transform her performance from whispers and big, graceful vocal lines, to all-out screaming.
Muscle & Marrow LOVE Tape out Now on Breathe Plastic Records
Love sees Muscle & Marrow evolving their sound. Following a good debut album, the duo was able to expand their music, make some bold moves and step up their game, and produce a truly great sophomore full-length.