Victory At Sea, All Your Things Are Gone

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

"Watcha gonna do with all your lonely letters?" asks Mona Elliott at the beginning of "No Reason to Stay". It's clear what Elliott intends to do with hers. Over the course of All Your Things Are Gone, the dark and riveting sixth record from Boston's Victory at Sea, she laments her busted heart and condemns her bitter enemies. Sounding something like the Decemberists in a serious funk, Victory at Sea gilds its melancholy sea shanties with elaborate, bewitching piano lines. The songs have a kind of grandeur and ruined majesty — like a castle covered in moss or a crumbling statue of David.

The whole thing works because, for all their dramatic flourishes, Victory at Sea never let drama turn into melodrama. Elliott's got a cutting sense of humor, capable of deflating pomp with a single turn-of-phrase. "I would've turned to drugs/ but I turned to love," she sneers in "Bored Otherwise" as the piano does a stern death march in shadows behind her. She proves just as adept at channeling the loneliness of others; "Cecille", with its wounded protagonist and thundering percussion, is a mirror of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control", and the ominous "The Party" tracks the slow, painful collapse of an individual who's hellbent on bridge-burning. There may not be a whole lot of joy on All Your Things Are Gone, but that doesn't make it any less thrilling.