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Neko Case

Middle Cyclone

[ANTI-; 2009]

By ; July 30, 2009 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Neko Case is a remarkable singer and is fast becoming a remarkable songwriter, too. But she’s not there yet. That is not to say that Middle Cyclone isn’t an excellent record – it will certainly be in my top 25 of the year – but it is to say that, as was the case on her previous solo releases, there are songs here that tower above their surrounding tracks. Most notably, “This Tornado Loves You,” “People Got a Lotta Nerve” and “I’m An Animal” – these are fantastic pop songs with hooks and heart. “Tornado” is the most unconventional of the three, employing a propulsive but somewhat formless structure, building towards a truly affecting and beautiful repeitition of the song’s title, as Case moans, “What will make you believe me?” Moments like this are what make this her best record yet, and the reason she is an artist that anyone with an interest in the kind of indie that straddles the line between pop and “art” needs to pay close attention to – despite her brilliant voice, which is strong, confident, and perhaps even distancing in its power, Case is increasingly revealing a touching vulnerability. Indeed, Middle Cyclone often feels almost nakedly honest – there is a smidgen of opaquity, sure; she insists and shrouding most of the senitments here in (sometimes forced) metaphors of animalia and nature (although at times this crutch is turned into an asset – Case has said in interviews that as a child she was only able to relate to the natural rather than human world). But overall this record has a tender, beating heart; which is to say that Neko Case is increasingly establishing a recognizable and compelling persona as an artist. That’s something very few even approach, and it’s the mark of greatness.


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