Experimental art-rock band from Boston, Bent Knee are set to release their second album on November 11th. This is a band that’s been thrown onto a lot of people’s radars because of the numerous songs that they dropped prior to this album that showcased the band’s ability to put together brilliant and compelling compositions. This album is filled with moments much like the songs they dropped before the release.
‘Shiny Eyed Babies’ starts in a very serene way with the lead singer Courtney Swain alone with a piano almost sounding like Regina Spektor. That changes completely within seconds as these pounding drums come in for the second song ‘Way Too Long’. Her voice goes from pretty to tormented in an instant, she howls and growls, and often gets mixed into the instrumentation. You can hear their influences from Radiohead in the way that she has the ability to use her vocals as an instrument much like Thom Yorke does. She has the ability to change up her vocals a lot more than Yorke though like on the track ‘Battle Creek’ when her falsetto sounds beautiful when it’s blending into the instrumentation towards the end of the song.
This is an album filled with sexual frustration, twisted fantasies and paranoia like on one of the most bizzare tracks on album, the six minute epic ‘Dry’. A song that finds the lead singer literally being ‘dry’ in that she can’t get turned on from her partner. They use strong imagery throughout this album painting these pictures that although are sometimes tortured they are often compelling and somehow emotionally potent.
The way in which Bent Knee organise their instrumentation is always so inventive and idiosyncratic no matter what instruments are used or style they’re going for on this album. They really have a MASSIVE sonic pallet on here and even the more common instruments on here are done superbly. The drums are always so unbelievably punchy on this album with the drummer knowing exactly when to come in and when to hold back – and when they do come in they’re always complex and powerful. There are strings used in various different ways throughout this album whether they’re being plucked like the song ‘I’m Still Here’ or lingering behind grumbling electric guitars. Even the keys on this album are varied like on the track ‘Being Human’ where the keys almost sounding electronic, whereas the standard keys on the Untitled track on here are played to sound almost like a spooky nursery rhyme. They even have dabblings of electronic sounds on this record that they use to add these brilliant instrumental build ups, they have a knack for making the instrumentation swell incredibly well.
‘Shiny Eyed Babies’ is some of the most meticulously designed and inventive music of the year. It’s completely stuffed with ideas and imagery without becoming too in your face or overly done. Though this album may not be for everyone on first listen, it’s an album that demands your full attention as there isn’t a wasted second in their sonic journey. This is an album made by a group of extremely talented musicians who are clearly dedicated to the art they’re creating.