Baths, Obsidian

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 05.28.13 in Reviews

“I hope people understand that I’m not the depressed, suicidal, and death-obsessed person the record may paint me as being,” says Will Wiesenfeld, referring to Obsidian, his second full-length release as Baths. “These are just darker areas that I wanted to explore.”

Full-on embracing darkness instead of just exploring it

He could have fooled us. On Obsidian, Wiesenfeld doesn’t just explore darkness; he full-on embraces it, without a hint of distance to assure us that he’s not actually seconds away from slitting his wrists with the same volcanic glass that gives the record its name. So while Wiesenfeld was photographed with furry animals for his last album and is clearly a connoisseur of cutesy emoji icons on Twitter, the lyrical content — death, doubt, lustful, loveless sex — and minor-keyed melodies this time around match the cover’s grey skies and grinning gargoyles.

Here’s the catch, though: As bleak and broken as some of the songs sound, glimmers of hope poke through the gloom thanks to Wiesenfeld’s lavish layers of field recordings, swoon-worthy strings, fluttering falsettos, plaintive piano progressions and snap-crackle-pop beats. It’s as if the Postal Service went off their meds and smeared their electro-pop productions with mascara and mud. The result is like a photo-negative version of Give Up, one that takes that album title at face value. Whatever darkness Wiesenfeld had to plumb to turn up Obsidian, we are the better for it.