Despite a marked shift in her musical M.O. here, it's Selina Martin's big bold personality that comes barrelling out on …caruso's brain…, widening your eyes and goofying up your smile.
Already associated through collaboration and/or comparison with Canadian iconoclasts like the Rheostatics and Bob Wiseman, Martin turns her quirk into a more avant/electronic path here, with help from the big brains of Joshua Van Tassel, Brodie West and Peggy Lee. The electronics involved in …caruso's brain… are not clean and airless dance floor beats, but the sounds of semi-organized malfunction or mechanical metaphors for emotional breakage. On "My Heart Ticks On" and "The Addicted," the skittish clicks are punctuated by ruptures of guitar from the very diaphragm of the song, like heavy feet at the end of the day. In contrast are the wings, whistles and jingles of joy in tracks like "Hawaii" and "Bike."
Co-producer Chris Stringer helps find a place for all of the little bits of melody and noise that make the songs feel economical and spare despite all the details. It's a masterful work that showcases Martin's magical talent for writing simultaneously from the heart, brain and gut… and hitting us in all three as a result. (Independent)