Prettier in the Dark
Alina Simone’s debut EP, Prettier in the Dark, owes much of its existence to indie cool queens like Cat Power, Julie Doiron and Shannon Wright. The same kind of wild-eyed southern gothic melancholia that typifies most of these women’s glorious catalogs hangs like a pall and muse over Simone’s songwriting. One of the better examples of this, “Every Fresh Start You Make,” is a borderline cruel and biting indictment of a directionless, alienated ex-lover; it reminds me of Adrian Tomine’s excellent comic story “Hazel Eyes.” Knowing how to work the template to full effect, most of the tracks on here feature minor-key guitar crackle and Simone’s sometimes quavering, sometimes howling voice. Occasionally a full band accompaniment steps in to spice up the formula. “Siberia,” possibly the best track, is also the EP’s most fully formed moment. The energy pent up in Simone summons a stellar performance from her band, and vice versa. A total mood record, Prettier in the Dark is the type of album that ends up growing on you as you spend time with it. On a gray morning, with steady rainfall as additional background ambience, it’s nearly perfect.
Fractured Discs: www.fractured-discs.com