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Pickpocket's Locket

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Künstler: Frog Eyes


In another time and place, Carey Mercer might well have been writing operas, which would certainly agree with his knack for chaotic narratives and his clear fondness for melodramatic vocals. In North America in the 21st century, Mercer makes do as the leader of an indie rock band, Frog Eyes, but his willingness to bare his soul for the benefit of the folks in the upper balcony is on prominent display on the eighth album from Frog Eyes, 2015's Pickpocket's Locket. This set debuts a new edition of the band, with Mercer's voice and guitar joined by Shyla Seller on keyboards, Terri Upton on bass, and the group's longtime drummer Melanie Campbell, and though this lineup is as dynamic and forceful as ever, electric guitars are largely absent from the arrangements as acoustic instruments dominate the surroundings, and the quieter attack, with strings and saxophones adding color and texture on several songs, only fuels Mercer's sense of drama. The singer's con brio style (which bears a certain resemblance to David Bowie's vocal attack in the '70s) is a good match for his lyrics, which on Pickpocket's Locket suggest Mercer is still sorting out the emotional wreckage left by the death of his father (a major theme on 2014's Carey's Cold Spring), and if Mercer's imagery is more impressionistic than realistic, the waves of sorrow, confusion, anger, and occasional joy are hard to miss, and the music, almost orchestral when the instruments rise together, is every bit as eloquent as Mercer. Pickpocket's Locket is less furious than most of Frog Eyes' body of work, but if the music doesn't kick as hard the emotions are still there in abundance, and Carey Mercer's songs of love and hate remain compelling and rewarding stuff. ~ Mark Deming