Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton Knives Don't Have Your Back
As the lead singer for Metric, Emily Haines is the intellectual who's alternately at home with and alienated by her after-bar parishioners. She keeps an eye on the exits, should she need to flee from the oppressive crush of hedonism. Her band's slower, more introspective tracks serve as those moments when our heroine steals away from the dance floor, the reality of a good time boiled down to its most trivial dregs. The nightlife is a shoddy Band-Aid for all that's wrong with the world.
But Haines's solo work never returns to the madding crowd. In fact, it doesn't venture out of its dimly lit apartment in the first place. Knives Don't Have Your Back is a beautiful bummer. Over sustained piano, string quartets, and other sparse instrumentation provided by friends from Broken Social Scene, Sparklehorse, and Stars, Haines exhales truths about superficial distractions and self-deceit. Her voice carries this drearily dreamy album. With a tone that straddles the line between admonishing and nurturing, she spins poetry about modern love and gets away with the occasional clunker. (Not even she can sing "Bros before hos" without giving the audience pause.) Although Haines has always tackled humorless, omnipresent evils (warmongers, patriarchal society, suburbia), Knives deals with a new faceless enemy—the exhausted, apathetic result of the nonstop fight. "Numb is the new high," offers Haines in "Nothing & Nowhere." No argument here. Let's just hope the lady stays off the prescriptions—someone needs to stay awake in case the club catches fire.
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