Eric Bachmann, a former member of the disbanded yet recently revived Archers of Loaf, has crafted his sixth LP for all those broken hearts, hopeless romantics, and guilt-ridden. The album is a beautiful life lesson to be heard through his significant vocals and minimal instrumentation, and although his previous Forfeit/Fortune may have over saturated the idea of self-realization, Bachmann’s latest offering under the moniker Crooked Fingers, yields a sense of necessary brokenness to achieve its greater meaning.
Recorded with The Pixies’ live sound engineer Matt Yelton, Breaks’ unpolished sound contributes to its overall essence as an album riddled with lyrical beauty, regret and melancholy. Thus, its homemade quality doesn’t compromise the album as a whole, but instead, it paints a more natural picture for listeners and further showcases the artists’ sincerity to his music. The fuzzy beginning of “The Hatchet” is a perfect example of Bachmann’s organic recording and producing methods. Bachmann’s sophisticated and rich vocals also play an integral role as they earnestly reflect on the singer’s past experiences and potential future, touching on personal topics that are widely familiar.
In the opening track “Typhoon,” Bachmann establishes a feeling of exhausted remorse, which remains a reoccurring theme throughout the 11-track collection. He softly laments “forgotten lows” and past grievances that seem to haunt his troubled consciousness, like ghosts beneath a full moon. Not only does Bachmann directly spell out his emotional turmoil, but tracks like “Bad Blood” and “Heavy Hours” also insist that listeners share in his disconnected grief. Certainly there are life lessons that can only be learned through heartache, and Bachmann’s latest offering taps into these painful realizations with an ice pick.
Breaks’ elegance rests largely on Bachmann’s devout songwriting and performance rather than his instrumentation.
“The Hatchet” lies at the lowest end of the spectrum with stripped acoustics, simple chord selection and minimal vocals, while “The Counterfeiter” tips the scale, adding spirited rhythms and tasteful arrangements. An ongoing, perilous refrain in “Black Candles” imparts massive dread, but lighthearted piano beautifies the background instrumentals.
Overall, the massive weight embedded in the folk melodies crafted by Crooked Fingers occasionally anchor this latest offering to an ominous soundscape, one that may be difficult for listeners to dig themselves out of. Although Bachmann has courageously proven his ability to write and compose beautiful music, Breaks is not the sort of album one should listen to for positive motivation. In fact, the heavy heartbreak and overall feeling of remorse Bachmann displays in his latest album is one for those who need some good, depressing tunes to intensify a sulk session.
Crooked Fingers – Breaks in the Armor tracklist:
- “Bad Blood”
- “The Hatchet”
- “The Counterfeiter”
- “Heavy Hours”
- “Black Candles”
- “Went to the City”
- “Your Apocalypse”
- “War Horses”
- “She Tows the Line”
- “Our New Favorite”