Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You

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After Middle Cyclone expectations were high for Neko Case’s follow up. But her recent, long-titled, album did the job, maybe not as well, but average for Case is still better than most.

“Night Still Comes” is an open slow-burner, holding back on even her voice until the chorus when Case’s voice bursts through and falling back on the beautiful and catchy “Catcha-catcha-catcha falling star” section, before its great and final sounding ending. The album speeds up on “Man,” definitely the rock song of the album, a social commentary song yet self-reflective at the same time, an interesting listen both sonically and lyrically.  “I’m From Nowhere” feels like Case has invited you to a campfire, as it runs without any percussion and relies on the guitar and harmonies to create a pretty and quiet song.

“Calling Cards” lo-fi opening breathes into it’s real sound like air, and plays with open vibe of “Night Still Comes” with different instrumentation. It takes something special to make “Blah blah blah” sound like a great line, but in the song it seems just right. There’s an urgency to “City Swan” that drives it, taking the instrumentation to a more intense level and Case gains her assertiveness from her other albums for a moment.

“Ragtime” takes things slow before bursting into its lush trumpet filled chorus, filling the space between them with some of Case’s sweetest vocals, and then burning out on its trumpets in a grand finale. “Magpie To The Morning” is probably one of the few songs I can listen to with such a prominent banjo, but the melody of it is strangely enchanting. It also has my favourite line of the album, “I’m on a top-secret mission, a Cousteau expedition, to find the diamond at the bottom of the drain,” that adds such colour and life to a mundane task that it’s a wonder Case isn’t writing novels in her spare time.

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