Neko Case – The Worse Things Get…

written by: September 10, 2013
Album-art-for-The-Worse-Things-Get-the-Harder-I-Fight-the-Harder-I-Fight-the-More-I-Love-You-by-Neko-Case Release Date: September 3, 2013


Neko Case, who has led a fulfilling solo career since the mid-’90s and is a member of Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers, presents us with some soulful new material, which blends her passionate voice with a handful of different genres to create the unique sound listeners have come to expect.

The long-winded title to her sixth studio release, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, isn’t mentioned on the album, but is a common theme carried throughout.

What Case does best is compile a myriad of different visions and spin them into one coherent image. She grabs influences from all across the board and incorporates them seamlessly into one product that shows both versatility and expert songwriting.

Covering styles inspired by alternative rock to folk, gospel to country, bluegrass to experimental, The Worse Things Get… has everything to offer.

The other thing that Case brings, of course, is her incredible voice. It’s powerful, smooth, amorous, and  carries the music. Though the instrumentals are extremely well-written as well, the centerpiece of every song is that beautiful voice and her genius lyrics.

This is apparent in “Wild Creatures,” which opens the album. The song has a calm, waltzy feel to it that is full of sound and dissonance. She has some strong lines in there, like the repeated, “Hey little girl, would you like to be the king’s pet or the king?/I’d choose odorless and invisible, but otherwise I would choose the king.” It’s one of the many glimpses of Case’s introspective side.

In addition to her collage of styles, she explores widely varying subject matter, as well. In a later song, “Bracing For Sunday,” she tells the story of a “Friday night girl” who lives a scandalous life on the weekend and braces for her judgement on Sunday. The song is catchy, with a lot of rich instrumentation, which goes well with the mood she is trying to capture with the story, expressing the carelessness with which the character lives her life.

One of the most unique tracks is “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” which is a sad a cappella song about an interaction Case witnessed at a bus stop between a mother and child. She shows off her warm voice without any other distractions, and captures the emotional encounter vividly. The layers she stacks up are alluring, and the stripped-down nature of the song allows listeners to focus on nothing other than the scarring event that Case witnessed.

The quirky end to The Worse Things Get… is a joyous, loud burst of energy from every angle.

On closing track “Ragtime,” there is a chorus of trumpets and a ball of sound on top of an enormous drum solo, a gorgeous mixture of noise and words that ends in graceful chaos. After a bit of silence once the final note has been hit, we hear a bit of strange noise and Case accurately states, “That was awesome,” to sum up both the song and the album as a whole.

What we have here is somewhat of a masterpiece. Case was able to draw inspiration from a dozen genres and infuse them all to make a fantastic record, full of originality and skillful execution. She’s continually gaining popularity as her career moves on, simply because she has been perfecting her already incredible work. The Worse Things Get… is no exception to Case’s upward trajectory, and is clearly her best work thus far.

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get… tracklisting:

  1. “Wild Creatures”
  2. “Night Still Comes”
  3. “Man”
  4. “I’m From Nowhere”
  5. “Bracing For Sunday”
  6. “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu”
  7. “Calling Cards”
  8. “City Swan”
  9. “Afraid”
  10. “Local Girl”
  11. “Where Did I Leave That Fire”
  12. “Ragtime”