Often times, music tells an unintentional story. There are moments, little as they are, that bring forth a story that might have been previously unknown. When those little moments come out, an album can go beyond its normal range and encompass something larger, grander than it was before. Muscle And Marrow frontwoman Kira Clark suffered a loss in the family during the writing of their new album, titled Love, and it shows through their music. However, there is a deeper story that goes beyond just the guitars and drums that invade this record. However, are these moments justified, and if so, why aren’t they everywhere? It’s these questions that require a deeper exploration of Love and all of its intricacies.
For starters, this album is dark. It’s very dark. The entire album flows slowly, but with a very large burden. Personified, this album is similar to the story of Sisyphus, who was condemned to hell for eternity. While there, he was forced to roll a heavy boulder up a large hill, only to have it roll back down again once he reached the top. This continued for eternity, and that’s the best way to describe this album. Every song is the beginning, and by the end, the boulder is right back where it started. This is not to say the album repeats itself; rather, it uses each song to build you up and break you down in a vicious and endless cycle. Take the middle of the album, where “Womb” gives way to the haunting chants that are all over “The Drooling Mouth”, the track that immediately follows. This endless battle for higher ground, an escape from this darkness, is what makes this album very cool. The album is chock full of industrial ideas that sound as if they could have been taken from the early 90s industrial era, and it makes this battle even more evident when you realize what kind of influences they have taken over the years.
This battle, however, becomes fruitless at times. Some songs give way to something very great, and others simply meander and try to find their way, only to lose their sense of direction and end up back at square one. The songs themselves are filled with promise. There are tons of ways that each song could have been capitalized on. Many of these incidents come in common places, such as the songs not allowing themselves room to breathe. It feels at times that the idea was to be as constricting as possible, both personally and with each song, in order to convey the pain that Kira felt. This is where those little moments come in. While each song has its good and bad, the pain felt here is real, and the idea that each song would paint a different portrait of her grief is something that feels very organic and natural for her. While the pain must have been great, she still found the strength to record this music, and that’s something.
What we are left with at the end of the day is something that gets thrown around a lot here: potential. This album, from its conception to its fruition, was filled with a lot of potential, and whether or not it is realized is still up for debate. On the one hand, it makes you feel pain. It makes you feel like you are choking, slowly succumbing to death and the inevitability it carries with it. On the other hand, it is an album that is filled with “this could be better” moments and the feeling of more potential than kinetic energy. It never feels as if it gets its feet fully off the ground; instead, it simply becomes another brick to put into the building of Muscle And Marrow. While the band has time and room to grow, hopefully they can fully realize the potential they have and make a monumental record, because they definitely have it in them; it just feels as if they don’t realize it yet.