Neko Case has released a new album with perhaps the longest title in the history of albums. It’s called The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. If you are unfamiliar with Neko Case, she is one of the lead singers of indie darling, The New Pornographers but she also has a solo project under her own name. In fact, her latest album (insert huge title) is her sixth album as a solo artist. Case is excellent at writing lyrics with emotional force but all of her words would mean much less if not for her distinctive and soulful voice. Somewhere between a sultry lounge singer and a professional singing instructor, Case’s voice is uniquely beautiful.
The latest album has a different tone from her 2009 album Middle Cyclone which was well-received by music lovers and critics alike. The lyrics in The Worse Things Get… have a directness to them, like there was very little time given to dress things up and make them pretty. Any crass lyrics or imagery are offset by Case’s vocal execution. This idea is exemplified in the track Nearly Midnight, Honolulu; here you can really see how raw and sometimes surprising this album can be. It works, and pays credence to the idea that sometimes it is nice to be surprised.
There are a few standouts on this album that will no doubt live on as repeating lyric or melody in the minds of those who hear them. I’m From Nowhere is essentially just Neko and an acoustic guitar, but it is in the odd transitions and strange sentiment regarding the 80s that makes this song memorable. Then we have Where Did I Leave That Fire. This track articulates, in a abstract way, the realization that you have lost something that used to define you as a person and you cannot get it back. Ragtime, which is the final song on the album, has a very good bassline, trumpets have found their way on this track to great effect.
The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You is perhaps better than Middle Cyclone, and that is saying something.