Muscle & Marrow – “Love” Review

Muscle & Marrow – “Love” Review

It is fitting this album is called “Love” because of the emotional shift this Portland based duo has made. In some parts made as a requiem to singer Kira Clark’s grand- mother, the album shifts from the almost doomy dirges and shed some of the noise to explore a more feminine side. This album has a greater emphasis placed on electronics and melody than what the band wrote previously. “My Fear” finds the album pulsing to life with layers of hypnotic vocals wrapping them selves around the beat. Heaviness is very relative. To me darkness is heavier than just being loud and fast…or loud and slow if we are talking about doom. So if thinking of heavy in more of an emotional context than a purely sonic one “Black Hole” gets heavier. The drums strike with chain gang deliberation and displays how Clark’s vocals have grown in their prowess to evocatively express emotion.


This album was recorded at Machines With Magnets in Rhode Island, which is the birth place of numerous albums by the Body and Battles. Every moment at the mixing board there was well spent. “Love” is a pristine piece of work with every note perfectly placed. Some of the grim has been scrubbed from their overall sound, but this is reasonable sacrifice, because when distortion does surface it’s more effective than the murkier mix of their previous work. The narcotic cocoon that is “Womb” collides with an oppressive punch similar to doom, but wielded with different intent. The vocals are delicate and float out of the gloom like petals of dead roses, replacing the more anguished metal screams Clark once belted out. There are a few moments she lets her inner beast out of its cage on “Sacs of Teeth”, but those slip through the cracks of her more introspective veneer.


Like most of this new journey “the Drooling Mouth” is another step further into the shadows of their highly refined new sound. Ghosts of a post-industrial wasteland haunt the song as it ebbs over the sparse yet steady drumming, as Kira coos over various noises that all she wants is love. After “Sacs of Teeth” the album becomes much more fragile, and asks fans of their heavier work to grow with them. “Bereft Body” is a melody light as a cloud until it fades out on a wave of noise. The closing song “Light” holds off a minute and a half into the song before banging to life. The band admits to moving into an almost poppier direction, but it would be an exaggeration of the word pop, in that it is far from following the pre-fabricated formula of radio song writing, and the songs lull you into them rather than relying on sugar coated hooks of any kind. With each listen, I became more accepting of the change in direction, it’s restrained but still very potent and wonderful listening late at night in front of the computer when sleep won’t come. If you give this one a chance it will slip into your dreams and stick.

By Wil Cifer