I find myselves spinning around in dizzy whirls all day long, being in 10 places at once and doing too many different things in those 10 places. I am only now slowly realizing that being 10 people is rather exhausting on my somewhat chaotic state of being. In fact, I am only now slowly realizing that I am in a somewhat chaotic state of being. Yes, I am making progress. Thank you. All that to say, if there was an album that made you want to temporarily dismiss chaos so you could just stop and absorb the world around you, “What a Beautiful Child” may be it.
The album opens with a track called “Home,” which employs this wonderful blend of indie/emo and subtle electronics whilst Eric Wallen sings “Someday I will return to the place I was born…” And if you thought that brass instruments had no place in indie rock, listen to this and think again. How does emo get away with a trumpet? Ask My Dear Ella. The trumpet almost weeps as you breathe in bittersweetness.
In “The Majesty” we have the sound of pianos, organs, and guitar with melody that brings a hearty taste of Radiohead into focus. While “Sitting on the Train” brings out some more of that Radiohead-ish feeling, it’s Radiohead with lower vocals and a feeling of spaciousness. Wallen tells “Her” he’s been waiting for her, and we the listener feel like we’re intruding… except that “She’s” not here… and aside from that… it’s rather captivating anyway. So we continue to stick around. We press our ear to the door and put our eye to the keyhole. And continue to listen during “Which Way Home”: “My pain is not hard, but I make it out to be, when you are still haunting me. Today I quit my job and I am sitting all alone without you. Listening to my favorite songs and I am drinking coffee. My roommate was not home when I arrived, but there were men working outside. Which way home? Which way home?”
“Home Part Two” stretches out before us in a beautiful, haunting slow-waltz with intertwining and overlapping melodies, counter melodies, and harmonies with reverberated keyboards reminding us of a dream world. We hear the sweetness of the flute threaded throughout the easy going lite-rock of “You Know Me,” and “Blue” reintroduces the bittersweet ballad, as does “In the Rain.” “Farewell” remains a mystery to me as the album dives into an ambient mix of sounds climaxing in a horrendous nightmare, lending itself to pictures of heart monitors, helicoptors, emergency medical centers, and death. Farewell.
The case layout on What a Beautiful Child feels familiar. But not “Oh, you again?” Rather, I would say, “Where have you been? I’ve missed you.” Overall this is a CD I’ve enjoyed listening to in the midst of my chaotic life. If you like indie/emo with a little rock and some added instrumental depth thrown in for good measure, you may enjoy it too.
Written by Tricia Krull.