Emily Haines, Knives Don’t Have Your Back

J. Niimi

By J. Niimi

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Knives Don't Have Your Back

Emily Haines

As the brassy frontwoman of the Toronto band Metric, Emily Haines is known for inflaming audiences with her frenetic energy, executing high-kicking crotch-shots in impossibly short skirts. But Metric's 2005 album, Live It Out, revealed Haines'introspective side: the solemn turn of its piano-tinged songs reflected the unexpected death of her father, esteemed Canadian poet Paul Haines (who was known for collaborations with Carla Bley and Robert Wyatt, two of the younger Haines's musical idols.)

Great art from great sadness — Haines achieves fraught majesty.

Haines père still seems to haunt his daughter's 2006 solo debut, Knives Don't Have Your Back. In both her piquant lyrics and sculpted vocal delivery, Haines ventures even further beyond Live It Out's thoughtful melancholy. The specters of Bley and Wyatt peek through on “Doctor Blind,” the album's stately lead single — a wry interrogation of Prozac Nation that itself feels like a pharmacological reverie. Knives also features members of Broken Social Scene, Stars, Metric and Sparklehorse — whom the album's weightless, wondrous string/horn arrangements often recall. Rarely does indie rock achieve such fraught majesty.