Esben and the Witch Wash the Sins Not Only the Face

Esben and the WitchWash the Sins Not Only the Face
As weekend eccentrics and half-hearted quirks clog up the alt-mainstream's weirdo quotient, it's increasingly tough to separate the Woolf-reading wheat from the Twilight-watching chaff. In this respect, a band like Esben and the Witch, all shrouds and wails, are a breath of fresh air. That said, the air the shadow-dwelling Brits inhale might be better characterized by its dankness, Wash the Sins Not Only the Face being a boggle-eyed, phosphorescent creature of the sort usually found hanging from the walls of sea caves. Songs like "When That Head Splits" and "Deathwaltz" hurtle through the same wintry forests inhabited by Zola Jesus, while the oppressive, pneumatic drums and dimensional effects layers of "Slow Wave" will put the cosmic frighteners into listeners of an earthbound disposition. However, the relentless gothic signifiers too often leave you in the cold, wondering why you didn't spend the last 45 minutes enhancing or deepening your more sinister feelings, rather than drowning beneath them. (Matador)