Marnie Stern The Chronicles of Marnia

Marnie SternThe Chronicles of Marnia
On her fourth album, inventive and demented singer/songwriter/guitar hero Marnie Stern whips up a potent batch of quirky, invigorating and, at times, beautiful new material that demonstrates the evolution she's undergone during her bold musical journey. There's an air of hopefulness and renewal permeating the lyrics of the hilariously titled The Chronicles of Marnia, matched by a magical, tingling warmth in the sturdy chord structures supporting the frantically snapping sails of her guitar histrionics like the ballast of her very own Dawn Treader. This newfound smoothness is aided by the gracefully pummelling chops of new skin thwacker Kid Millions (Oneida); his groove-heavy playing tempers Stern's jagged edges, where Zack Hill's angular aggression amplified it. A mix of her customary vocal idiosyncrasies — fractured pep-squad chanting, goofy near-scatting — and an increased affection for hooky snatches of cleanly sung melodies further freshen songs that are still a bit overly reliant on rhythmically similar fret board tapping riffs. She's come a long way already. Let's hope that the Voyage of the Dame Shredder is far from over. (Kill Rock Stars)