because cool kids are boring

Split Seven Ways

with one comment

I need to give a hat tip here to Liz, who is the one who turned me onto the UK WRock group Split Seven Ways. A favor for which I’ll be indebted to her for a while yet to come.

I mention this because SSW dropped a new EP on Friday, called Slytherin Hearts. The EP is free to download, as are her albums Love Is The Answer and The Best Days Of Our Lives. She also has an album that you can buy, called Wormwood and Wolfsbane, the money for which is apparently going to help her cover the costs of traveling to the US for WRockstock. You can find the links for the downloads and the link for paypal at her myspace page (see the above link). I heartily recommend checking out the free albums. After digesting those, picking up Wormwood and Wolfsbane will pretty much be a no brainer.

Like her fellow UK Wrockers Riddle TM, SSW identifies as a Slytherin group. Her songs tend to focus on house members, with the occasional foray into other points of view, especially the Marauders. Snape is a common reoccurring point of view in her songs.

As with Riddle TM, the honest talent displayed here is a bit surprising, as is the open emotion in the songs.

Usually when I write a review it tends to be something of a subconscious thing. I’ve never been much of a lyrics person and so I tend to focus more on the feel of the songs and how my subconscious mind reacts to them. Given that, I’m kind of surprised to find how many times I’ve been referring to the above blog entry (the second SSW link) to read through her notes and lyrics for the songs. Though, I guess when I stop to think about it, it does make some sense.

The first thing that hits you about SSW is how delicate the songs are. The arrangements use a combination of guitar, violin, and keyboard, all of which tend to play simple repetitive fragments over and over again through out the song. The effect of these delicate arrangements is to push the vocals up front. This could be a killing stroke for some artists, since it puts a great deal of demand on the vocal delivery, but SSW pulls it off impressively.

While there isn’t a great deal of emotional range on the album — SSW’s works over all seem to focus primarily on the gothic fascination with angst, despair, and an existential sense of hopelessness — the emotions that are on display here are convincingly portrayed. A good bit of that is thanks to SSW’s delivery, but another significant reason for the quality of the performance has to go to SSW’s lyrical abilities.

If you take the entirety of SSW’s work, there is an obvious affinity for poetry in her lyrics, but there is also a matter of fact, conversational quality to some of her songs. While the best example of this is probably the song Let Go, off Love Is The Answer; Slytherin Hearts offers a good example of what I’m referring to with the song Brains and Beauty. The song, which concerns a non-canonical Slytherin/Ravenclaw couple, proves to be a haunting song in large part because of the conversational quality of the lyrics. The listener is not presented with a poem which attempts to metaphorically capture the scene. Instead we are presented with a straight forward confession. This lyrical technique, combined with SSW’s ability to portray the proper emotions with her voice, removes any need for metaphor. It isn’t a trick that should be recommended to new comers, since it is easy to botch, but it is pulled off to great affect here.

I began this review comparing SSW to Riddle TM. There are definite similarities in feel and approach between the two artist, though SSW falls short of Riddle TM’s polished professionalism. Considering Riddle TM’s background in performing professionally though, this is hardly a slight against SSW. And for fans of her work, it provides us with the chance to watch her grow with each new release. Which in my opinion is one of the strongest reasons for listening to independent music.

Split Seven Ways is easily added to my list of WRock groups that I will be following in the future, not just with in the WRock universe, but beyond as well. Given the growth the has already been made, I imagine the coming years will hold some amazing music from this woman.

Written by Matt

February 18th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

Posted in Reviews,Wizard Rock