Roughly hewn, flippant, expressive
The scene is set with 'Sweden', a catchy tongue in cheek track powered by a duo of jangling guitars, electric organ and spoken word lyrics that deliver an engaging commentary on human existence which has very little to do with Sweden; “…oxytocin is released into the bloodstream during sex…it’s a chemical body trap. Run for your lives!”
Vocalist Tom Mayne’s predominantly spoken delivery is one of staunchly bemused nonchalance, and spoken word might be the best choice, because Mayne might not be the most conventionally agreeable singer about, with a nasal whine that only just errs this side of tuneful. However throughout the album that dispassionate and unpolished voice serves to enhance the mood of the music: a flippant acknowledgment of ordinary everyday heartbreaks, failures and indifference. Mayne’s delivery is balanced perfectly on the emotional fulcrum like a comic with flawless timing.
Underscored by clumpy bass and off kilter riffs, single 'Fight Song' is a deranged rolling tune with all the charm of a psychotic clown in a haunted big top. Combined with Mayne’s spoken vocals this is three minutes of confusing, ominous, homemade poetry. 'Can’t Keep Doing What You Do' is in a similar vein, with scratching fiddles and tapping percussion creating a sketchy musical feel; and 'You Should Have Closed the Curtains' mixes a gypsy sway and violin with a ghostly circus merry-go-round riff and a choir of backing singers.
David Cronenberg’s Wife shows its tender underbelly in tracks like 'Make Me a Channel of Your Piece' - a traveller’s desperate plea for love and soul refreshment, which adopts some but not all of the lyrics of the original hymn, combining them with open, rolling instrumentation which brings to mind images of the sandy, open plains in an old fashioned Western.
'In The Limo' is a beer fuelled lament with a drunken, Irish folk feel, fragmented guitars, weeping fiddles, accordion and whining sung vocals. This is a song that, like its heartbroken protagonist, and like many of the tracks on this album, sounds as if it will fall apart at any minute.
David Cronenberg’s Wife make deliberately disjointed unrefined, unpolished folksy tracks, that are held together with just enough love and passion for their roughly hewn beauty to shine through.