We’re into the second month of 2017 and the amount of amazing music that has already been released is pleasantly heartwarming. Among those bringing gifts for our ears is Sinai Vessel, a “punk for sissies” band from North Carolina, whose new album, Brokenlegged, is definitely one for the books.
The album opens with “Looseleaf,” its musicality lying in the delicate notes of the introduction and the warm tones of Caleb Cordes’ voice, making it the perfect beginning for an emo record–which Brokenlegged undoubtedly is. These elements carry over into “Ramekin,” with added layers of darker sound and well-placed harmonies, blending with dainty bell-like chimes and violins. “Laughlin” possesses a soft, understated strength in its sound, supported by the underlying bass line, which then increases in intensity at times, peaking with the sound of Cordes’ rough screams.
Rounding off the first half of the album is “Down with the Hull,” a song that picks up the pace compared to the three before it. Cordes’ voice loses none of its warmth but there is little of the delicate sound that was present in “Looseleaf.” With cymbal crashes and guitar lines that boast a certain heaviness, “Down with the Hull” exudes a kind of power that tapers off into an almost poignant ending. It transitions nicely into “Dogs,” which has a grittier undertone and an even tempo that is comforting, wrapping the listener in a cozy blanket of sound. “Birthblood” has a soothing chorus of “ooh”s to complement its attempt at upbeat positivity, in spite of the daunting picture the song paints about being flown out in one’s birth blood.
As we near the end of Brokenlegged, things have slowed to an acoustic gem called “Died on My Birthday,” which certainly sounds depressing but possesses beauty in its melancholy. It belongs in a quiet living room with some close friends and cheap furniture, everyone’s eyes closed and bodies gently swaying in time. The perfect closer to match its perfect opener, “Cork of Worry” sets a stark contrast with the song before it, filled with loudness, an almost haunting undercurrent composed of bass and electric guitar, and an earnestness caught only in the subtle edge of Cordes’ voice at certain moments. It leaves the listener fulfilled and maybe a little awestruck with the climactic nature of the album’s ending. It’s different, and good. Very good.
Consisting of eight songs that together only last a total of thirty minutes, Brokenlegged is a beautiful album drawing its strength and artistry from its warm sound and dainty instrumentals sprinkled throughout. It remains consistent, with little variation from song to song, although that makes contrasting tracks stand out all the more. Its length leaves us with the feeling of wanting more, maybe ten songs instead of eight, but those eight songs contain so much more than their thirty minutes suggests.
Brokenlegged was released on January 27 via Tiny Engines.