This second album from Andalusian singer-songwriter Marina Gallardo scrapes away a lot of the surface obfuscation of 2008′s somewhat risky debut Working To Speak to reveal a distilled concentration of her reflections and fears in songs that work to bewitch and subjugate the listener with a disarming gentleness and subtlety. With its evocative title hinting at something darker lurking at her heart the album’s shade is conveyed magnetically by Gallardo’s suave chiaroscuro, bringing her personal monsters to life with artful sincerity.
The abrasive ‘Golden Ears’ and simmering, PJ Harvey-esque ‘New Worlds’ aside, Gallardo has largely disposed of the stormy guitar riffs that populated her debut to focus instead on intimate snatches of twilit beauty. Like its predecessor Some Monsters Die & Others Return does not overreach a half hour, the thirteen individual songs seldom troubling two journeys round a stopwatch, and this affords Gallardo a lightness of touch that allows her songs to be as fleet as they are shadowy.
Numbering among the more intoxicating highlights are the morbid yet enriching Americana gems of ‘The Squawking Bird’ and ‘Monsters’, the touching lullabies of ‘Nora’ and ‘Climbing The Walls’, the mesmerising ‘Tired Man’ and the philosophical yet enchantingly delicate ‘Smile’. Musically fainter than the debut but more mature and weighty, the ambitions of this album are surmised rather neatly in Gallardo’s daring decision to close with a pair of back-to-back instrumentals. Her growing artistry shines through the gentle heat of ‘Trembling Bones’ and sober melancholia of ‘Sea Song’, both fascinating in their simplicity and communicated emotion.
Overall, Some Monsters Die & Others Return is a disturbing discovery that just goes to prove that not all things which go bump in the night need provoke a rebel yell when a low moan can be equally as chilling.
[Foehn; March 30, 2010]
Adapted from the original review in French here.
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