Droneflower is in bloom. The new collaboration between Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Mutoid Man), is a sprawling and expansive exercise in contrasts. It is the sound of the war between the brutal and the ethereal, the dark and the light, the past and the present, and the real and imagined.
Brodsky met Nadler for the first time in 2014 at Brooklyn's Saint Vitus Bar when he came to see her play on her July tour, and they quickly became friends. Both of them had been wanting to explore songwriting that didn’t fit into their existing projects, and they soon became energized by the prospect of working together. One of the first ideas they discussed was a horror movie soundtrack, and while Droneflower isn't that, it is a richly cinematic album. It's easy to imagine much of the record set to images, though it wasn't composed that way.
The eighth album from Marissa Nadler, For My Crimes, is the sound of guilt giving way to truth. The songs stare down the dark realization that love may not be enough to keep two people together through distance and differing needs. By asking these difficult questions about her relationships, Nadler has found a stronger sense of self and a sharper voice as both a songwriter and a vocalist, culminating in her most evocative entry in an already impressive discography.
For more than 12 years, Marissa Nadler has perfected her own take on the exquisitely sculpted gothic American songform. On her seventh full-length, Strangers, she has shed any self-imposed restrictions her earlier albums adhered to, stepped through a looking glass, and created a truly monumental work.
Once again partnered with July producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Black Mountain) Nadler has created a new album equal in sonic quality to the apocalyptic lyrical tone that covers its 44 minutes. In places her voice and guitar play off subsonic synths, while elsewhere, as in "Katie I Know," a pulsing drumbeat launches the song off into an intense, confrontational place. "Janie in Love" is another full-band highlight, marrying the album's most allegorically primal lyrics to the melodic hooks that makes Nadler one of the best songwriters working today.
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Marissa Nadler wastes no time in cutting close to the bone on July, her latest album and first for her new North American label, Sacred Bones. “Drive” opens the record with one of her most devastating lines, addressing a quandary we have all grappled with at some point: “If you ain’t made it now/ You’re never gonna make it.” July is the kind of release that reminds you why NPR counts Nadler's songwriting as so “revered among an assortment of tastemakers.” This is a singular achievement for the artist, a record she couldn’t have made earlier in her career because, as every songwriter knows, she didn’t just write these songs: She lived them.