When Timber Timbre released Creep On Creepin’ On, the band reached a whole new level. Sparse, minimalistic folk became atmospheric (read: creepy), lush, cinematic music that very few bands do well (Del Bel and TAIWAN are two more bands that fit in this descriptor). Hot Dreams manages to maintain the cinematic feel with the added bonus of some excellent saxophone courtesy of Colin Stetson.
The mood of the album is perfectly summarized by the first video from this album, “Hot Dreams” the song. The setting is at a strip club, but it seems to be the most miserable place imaginable. Which is not to say that one should imagine Hot Dreams as the visualization of a sad strip club, but as a subversion of what might be expected as normal.
The album begins on a creepy note (surprise, surprise) with “Beat the Drum Slowly,” a slow-burner that builds tension and showcases just one of many instances of excellent lyricism. describing “deco towers” and “emerald coffins” among other things.
And then songs two and three knock it out of the park. “Hot Dreams” is the most sensual song Taylor Kirk has ever written, both in terms of his repetition of words and slightly breathier delivery to the sparse instrumentation, of brushed drums and the odd note of a keyboard. And then Colin Stetson delivers the sexiest sax solo in years to finish the song off. This is followed by “Curtains?!” which totally (and wonderfully) destroys the slow jam feel of the previous song. Featuring lyrics from Simone Schmidt, the song also packs a killer bass line and guttural vocalizations. The creepiness returns, and it won’t go anywhere any time soon.
Schmidt’s lyrics are also a part of “Bring Me Simple Men” and features some real lyrical gems, the best being: “Every hunter’s got his spray/You can tell me I’m a good sport/But that doesn’t make me game.”
Even a more sparse song like “Grand Canyon,” which wouldn’t have been out of place on a pre-Creep On Timber Timbre record, feels just right. It almost sounds like a travel song, as Kirk describes nearing the famous landmark, but then: “I pray the Grand Canyon, take our plane inside its mouth.”
Late in the game we get “Run From Me,” which is perhaps the scariest song on the album in its sheer simplicity. At least for the first part of the song, Kirk sings lines like “Run from me darling/Run my good wife/Run from me darling/You better run for your life.” At that point, the album ceases to feel like something stalking you unseen. At that moment, it’s like the unknown thing has caught you.
Mika Posen’s strings are brilliant as always, most noticeable in “This Low Commotion,” which gets more intense as it goes on. Stetson appears on half the album’s songs, and often sounds more like the avant-garde solo artist we’ve come to know and love on songs like the sinister instrumental “The Three Sisters.”
Timber Timbre is a band that has mastered the art of the eerie album, and with each successive album, we can only expect a new bout of chills, in all senses of the word.
Top Tracks: “Hot Dreams”; “Curtains?!”; “Run From Me”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*