Published May 14, 2014Aaron Mangle has always been Cousins' central force. As the project's lone constant, his high-pitched howl formed the nucleus of Cousins' idiosyncratic garage rock across a pair of full-lengths and a slew of splits and singles. But on their third album, Mangle gets personal as he explores his relationship with his late grandmother who died in 2012 and suffered from dementia.
Over drummer Leigh Dotey's thumping beats and his own staccato guitar riffs, he sings, mantra-like, about communicating with someone whose body and mind are slowly deteriorating. Working with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh and Beliefs' Josh Korody, the album retains the crunchy immediacy of past efforts without the booming, lo-fi echo that befell Cousins' last effort. The Halls of Wickwire is affecting and hypnotic, big without sounding slick and easily the best thing the band have produced to date. (Hand Drawn Dracula)