American electro-pop diva Glasser (originally born in Boston) holds a special place in my heart as being an artist I discovered on CD at our local library, circa 2010. This drove includes the auspicious likes, as it were, of White Rabbits, Starlight Mints, White Denim and probably a bunch of other squirrel-ly indie acts whose final product makes way more sense than it has any right.
The mission of Crux seems clear enough, after the two succinct, easily digestible, but by this time ancient, LP’s from this artist [Ring (2010) and Interiors (2013)]. Glasser wants things rhythmic, but cold and autonomous, cited by Wikipedia as remitting that “she wanted to create a project where every part sounds like ‘they’re very separated.’” Of course, we can look to our trusty electronica curmudgeon Bjork for a nice model of this, and her ambient, kind-of-nonsensical Medulla (2004), which, like Crux, followed a bevy of warm pop in the artist’s catalogue and thereupon took things in a cold, kind of machine-like direction.
But boy, can Glasser get conceptual still, or for the first time, perhaps, and this detached, chaotic and maniacal approach to album structuring gives her a nice platform for “Knave.” “Knave” was a track I’d originally pegged as a cathartic attack on overly bold boys in her surroundings, given the word’s true denotation. By the hundredth second or so of sensual moaning and growling, though, it’s true that the “knave” is herself (in light of her moderately published homosexual escapades, I suppose). The track doesn’t have a structure or chorus and I don’t think it really has any lyrics, either, but it does represent a key segment on side A of Crux in which things get distinctly human, Glasser envisioning herself as a sort of transgender, melodic woodpecker, which, hey, we’ve all done at some time, I figure.
If you’re looking for pop songs or club bangers this record probably isn’t for you. Still, I think it’s an achievement on the whole and in fact I’m happy for Glasser for following up two classic albums (on which yes the hummable pop songs do abound, in each case) with a staunch statement in ambient minimalism which is not only not a retread but also comes complete with enough rhythm and tension to stand as a continually playable electro-pop bastion, in its own right. “All Lovers” sustains the album’s dark, eerie vibe, but probably makes the most headway toward something ready for radio, with nonsensical lyrics forming a wallpaper behind some serious chord progression and undulating sonic texture. “Clipt” finds her sense of melody and background vocals taking things back into the Florence + the Machine territory to which we all knew she laid some claim. Too many vocal-driven dirges with ham-handed emotion deprive Crux of classic status but the album remains a foray, nonetheless, into an exciting new territory for Glasser, and what’s more, emancipates her from the capitalistic world of radio and the mainstream.
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