Four years in the making, Emily Haines’s solo project has taken a backseat to her day job as lead vocalist for indie synth-rockers Metric. The band is still flying high on the hit singles from their sophomore release, Live it Out — “Monster Hospital,” and “Poster of a Girl” — and while their success is good for the band, it inadvertently pigeonholed Haines solely as a rock artist.
Haines tears down those rock-only misconceptions with Knives Don’t Have Your Back, a hushed collection of piano-based arrangements, fleshed out with soft strings, brassy horn arrangements and groaning guitar feedback — all which help with accentuating the feelings of detachment and melancholy that underline Haines’s mesmerizing songs.
While some listeners might feel that the album’s tracks sound too much alike, songs like first single “Doctor Blind,” the Lennon-esque “Our Hell” and the weary, guitar driven “The Lottery” offer enough uniqueness to keep things interesting. Still, Knives is full of depressing songs and a handful of them were written about the passing of her father, poet Paul Haines.
Ultimately though, Knives is all about Haines stripping away the big rock sound of Metric, and providing an opportunity to develop her quick lyrical bite, laced with sarcasm and truth. (Last Gang Records)