Skin of Evil
(01.2009, Soft Abuse)
RIYL = Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown, nervous breakdowns
If you are not familiar with Carey Mercer’s frantic, maniacal vocal delivery yet, you’re missing out. Something about the urgency of his street preacher poetry reminds me of the lunatics recorded off the street on old Godspeed You Black Emperor albums. True; Mercer may not be as overtly interested in the destructive wake of capitalism, but he can in no way be accused of being any less impassioned about his subject matter. On Skin of Evil, Mercer’s second solo album under the pseudonym Blackout Beach, the subject matter is a ‘Donna.’ Yeah, the whole album is about this one girl and her relationships. It’s always kind of great to see an artist put out such a focused statement, a piece that stays on track with what it sets out to do and Mercer accomplishes it wonderfully. Sonically, Skin of Evil feels oddly hollow and ominous. The frantic pace of his main gig with Frog Eyes is gone, replaced by an odd mix of electronic beats, walking guitars and vocals on top of vocals backed by additional vocals. It is a little disorienting at first (especially if you have already fallen head over heels for Mercer’s previous works), but on repeated listens Skin of Evil burrows deep under your skin (of Evil!!! Ahem - sorry) propelling you through the record again and again. The thing I am most worried about is that the austerity of Mercer’s theatrics will prove too impenetrable on a listener’s first spin leaving them wandering off to other more easily digestible stables. Please young listener, don’t go! I promise with the weight of all that I have in musical taste as is here documented on this blog that this, Skin of Evil, is not something you would want to handle so lightly. For those willing to go deeper into the woods, to get lost and intentionally disoriented, Skin of Evil will prove an enduring masterpiece. I was only introduced to Mercer through the first Swan Lake’s album (ooh, the new one is so amazing!), then Tears of the Valedictorian, after which I backpedaled into older Frog Eyes territory and I have become a thorough believer of Mercer’s deathly urgent pop sensibilities. Skin of Evil is the last glorious tract in that conversion – So good.
Blackout Beach - "Cloud of Evil"