Review: The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer
Our newest reviewer Bert Banana gets bodied.
There’s a certain irony to getting excited for an album by The Body. There are few bands out there, regardless of genre, that affect me like The Body does. There’s a certain rawness and bleak outlook in their music that resonates with me (for better or for worse… I can’t decide); it hits on very specific feelings, and in a lot of ways leave me feeling very vulnerable. For these reasons, it’s hard for me not to look forward to something new from them. So, when I got home and saw a package from Thrill Jockey sitting on my patio chair, I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed with jubilation that a) I have the new album well in advance and b) I finally get to hear what I’ve been anticipating this entire year. I couldn’t be happier to feel so utterly depressed.
Off the bat, the whole package is aesthetically beautiful. High gloss, sturdy gatefold jacket with high gloss black and white inner sleeves. Lyrics on one, liner notes on the other. You open it up and you’re greeted with a quote by Clarice Lispector;
Before even playing the record, I know I’m already fucked. This is precisely the road this album goes down. While The Body has never been one to pull punches, with album titles like I Shall Die Here and Nobody Deserves Happiness, they have always gone the extra mile in ensuring you know that the journey you’re about to embark on will be that of pure misery and self-loathing. While the you know this is going to get ugly as fuck; the record itself is probably the prettiest record I’ve ever seen. It looks like the inside of an oyster shell.
The album is rather hypnotic in a lot of ways. Almost immediately, you are greeted by the sad sound of violins followed by some beautiful, soft, melodic female vocals. That’s the hook. You’re committed. You can’t turn back at this point. For the first half of the record, there’s a heavy focus on ambiance. They really dial back on the noise which can be attributed to the heavy emphasize of samples. For me, it feels like there is a lot more precision with the sound they are creating. Mind you, despite the heavy focus on samples, there are still instrumental arrangements with the violin (mentioned before) and piano. It really works well with the themes in this album: loss, desperation and loneliness. There’s an incredible sense of realism with the way they tackle dealing with these issues and the mental struggle that comes from them.
Throughout the record, there are various vocal styles, including those signature agonizing screeches The Body is known for. Crissy Wolpert is mesmerizing on every track she’s on. Kristin Hayter absolutely smashes it on “Nothing Stirs” and “Sickly Heart of Sand” (which is probably the best song The Body has ever done) with such incredible vocal performances that you can’t help but replay the songs regularly. The record builds up constantly, and while we get glimpses of that descent into chaos, they reel back. It’s a constant tease, but thankfully it doesn’t go down that rabbit hole. It flows so naturally that everything feels like it’s happening exactly when it’s supposed to happen. At no point does anything feel forced. Which is a real shining light on the production, because of how complex and ambitious this album is. It’s that balance this make this the most accessible album The Body has ever done. When it all ends, we’re left with a monologue from Bohumil Hrabal’s Total Fears: Letters to Dubenka that’s goddamn devastating. Admittedly, it was the hardest part to get through. Not out of bad taste but because I related to it so much. I felt like the album knew me better than I knew myself. It was telling me exactly how I feel when I wake up in the morning or go through my day to day. Once the record ended, I was left feeling like hot garbage.
This is one of the best records I’ve heard in a long time.