Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton Knives Don’t Have Your Back

[Last Gang; 2006]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: singer-songwriter, wistful indie-pop
Others: Cat Power, Edith Frost, Damien Jurado

Emily Haines, frontwoman of Metric and part-time member of Broken Social Scene, is back with a disc under her own name, backed by members of her other projects and other well-wishers from the burgeoning Canadian indie scene. Knives Don't Have Your Back explores the softer side of an already relatively gentle oeuvre, with Haines singing and playing the piano on all of Knives' 11 cuts.

While Knives Don't Have Your Back is certainly consistent in its muted mood, the album is also troublingly samey. Haines chooses to make her statements with the tone and lyrical content of the songs here, rather than grabbing the listener's attention with melody or instrumentation; as a result, the songs blend together. Small flourishes, like the strings on "Doctor Blind," the electric guitar and drum machine on "Detective Daughter," and the horns on "Mostly Waving" help a bit. By comparison, however, Haines is lapped by the musical richness and attitude of, say, the most recent Cat Power records, which mine similar sonic terrain. Essentially, Haines' piano playing and singing are lovely, but Knives' timidity, coupled with mundane and occasionally outright bad lyrics, keep this record in check.

1. Our Hell
2. Doctor Blind
3. Crowd Surf Off a Cliff
4. Detective Daughter
5. The Lottery
6. The Maid Needs a Maid
7. Mostly Waving
8. Reading in Bed
9. Nothing & Nowhere
10. The Last Page
11. Winning

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