Marissa Nadler Songs III

Marissa Nadler Songs III
It’s hard to describe this record without sounding silly — it’s so good that all I can do is gush, and that involves the heavy use of critics’ clichés. Song III, to begin with, sounds timeless (that’s one). Nadler has one of those rare voices that are both strong and full of character, and if you stripped away the production, which is gorgeous, working perfectly with Nadler’s simple, sophisticated songwriting, you wouldn’t know which era to pin it to. Her songs would be lovely on their own but they’re complemented by meticulous sound effects that blend flawlessly into the mix. Everything is in sync — vocals, guitar, production — and the recurring theme of death adds to the eerily immaculate nature of it all. Her sleepy delivery smacks lightly of Mazzy Star but Nadler’s songs have a melancholic quality that goes a little deeper — Pearls Before Swine (who she’s covered) might be a closer comparison, as far as general feel is concerned. There’s something enigmatic about Nadler; her songs, though they’re striking and original, sound strangely familiar and slightly otherworldly. Songs III is easily the best album I’ve heard all year, though if you played it for somebody without mentioning the artist’s name or epoch they’d probably agree that it was excellent as well. (Kemado)