opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH
Fans of M83 will be delighted to learn that White Sea, the solo project of band member Morgan Kibby, does not stray far from the trail blazed by the French band long ago. Her debut effort, In Cold Blood, is chock-full of epic tracks that merit adjectives such as “soaring,” “sprawling,” and “triumphant,” living up every bit to the legacy of someone who had a hand in the making of maximalist hit, “Midnight City.”
The only outlier here among a collection of tracks rendered in full surround sound, blown-out-stereo style is “Small December,” a somnolent, downtempo ballad that hypothetically serves to function as a respite between sonic buffets. Instead, Kibby elevates the track to a melodramatic apex, shouting with wild fervor at the top of her lungs. Consequently, she ends up tripping on some awkward lyrics that become acutely noticeable when combined with her vocal grandstanding and a lack of the sheer quantity of sound that is present in the remainder of the album.
Kibby is at her most compelling when her songs skew slightly evil, as on the still-astonishing early cut, “Prague,” which glows with a malevolent intensity and pushes forward with the inexorable force of an avalanche, or on “Warsaw,” where despite the saccharine sweet of her falsetto, she sings of stealing men, seducing wives, and gutting fish, among other things.
After a while though, even that gets old, and Kibby’s grandiloquence becomes rather grating as power-pop hits its saturation point, and the walls of sound become indistinguishable. However, overall, In Cold Blood is a pleasant listen in small doses, functioning better in manageable chunks than as a whole forty-minute work. When listened to in a piecemeal fashion, the album, particularly the latter half, becomes far easier to digest, each track a self-contained universe rather than another in a series of increasingly loud explosions. Kibby may not quite have charted a novel path, but her debut hits the sweet spot for anyone in desperate need of a quick power-pop pick-me-up. Just don’t linger too long. C+