Someone is going to tell you that the new album from Crater is electro-pop. The sophomore release from the Seattle-based duo is called Unearth, and ‘yes’ it’s kind of electro-pop but this album takes license with the genre; musically it sneaks darker elements beneath the radar, and lyrically it addresses issues that are typically overlooked in pop. Some people may tell you that this album leans into an industrial sound, but it’s more nuanced, more mature, more worldly-wise. It’s important to sort these distinctions, because Crater are not flimsy pop personalities, nor are they pouting with subdued malcontent.
Cecelia Gomez and Kessiah Gordon commit to a level of lyrical craft that’s refreshing. Even at the bleakest moments of reflection there’s the reassuring measure that they’re still in control. There’s no ranting, no easy chorus sing-alongs, and no reliance on typical devices. There is purpose, and it seems that Crater are driven to establish community with these tracks. Not in some idealized, “If we get together we can overthrow” way, but in the sense of “The sense of loss in me is personal to me, but it’s the same as the sense of loss that’s personal to you – let’s talk.” For all the sweeps, and broad vistas of the album – of which there are many – at heart this is a deeply intimate album.
This collection, as the title explains, digs through the issues that are often buried in life. There’s death, heartbreak, and even petty frustrations – all dealt in an oddly holistic way. An innocuous remark or moment can trigger a well of emotions that belong to a larger, uneasy situation. Tracks tilt and whirl, just like emotional meters tilt and whirl. There’s a smartness in the material that means these dark passages shimmer with light, and larger truths push up to just beneath the surface. Crater do all the heavy lifting – but they expect the audience to work with them and invest something of themselves – to reach in.
“Unfurled myself, like I knew I would, to feel some comfort.” Is a line in the opening, title-track. Under analysis this line may well be the cornerstone of the collection. It is voluntarily that the protagonist opens, she is self-aware, and she infers that vulnerability is required before comfort can be felt. Gomez takes vocal lead, but Gordon’s harmonic presence offers a subconscious sweep of the issue. This is one of those tracks that could live forever, timelessly in nocturnal headphones, or fill dance floors in the more mindful clubs.
Closing out the album is “No Es Illusion” A Spanish-language revelation which is smart. “It’s not an illusion…” leads us to think that the big secret is about to be revealed, that you can trust your eyes, your ears. This may all be unbelievable, but it’s true. Veiled in a second language this closing truth becomes even more poetic, more exotically honest. And the chimes that ring out the close of the sequence are pretty as fuck.
For Unearth we award Crater all the street lights in Seattle turned green in the rain.
HURRY – LISTEN – CRATER