Philadelphia band Knifeplay isn't afraid to get bleak. "I am nobody," songwriter Tj Strohmer sings as the opening line of the band's sophomore album, Animal Drowning; from there on out, you might categorize the album's major themes as failure, hopelessness and loneliness. Knifeplay's sound contains elements of twangy confessionals, bruising shoegaze and sprawling slowcore: intricate and dense enough to feel totally absorbing — but also, majestic and stirring enough to convince you the band still has a little fight left.
Opener "Nobody" kicks off the album with an unhurried ascent, like a roller coaster slowly clicking up a huge hill. "When I'm old," Strohmer sings, resigned but perhaps not entirely despondent, "I hope to make peace / With everyone I've ever met." The song's fuzzed-out guitars and warped riffs give just a hint of how heavy Animal Drowning can get, but its soaring final minute is a reminder that the band is just as committed to crafting moments of beauty you can get lost in.
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