review from Nude as the News
rating: 8.5 out of 10
(#48 on their list of the 100 most compelling albums of the decade)
Stepping into Chan Marshall's musical world is like falling slowly asleep and slipping gently into a dark dreamy montage. The singer's voice conjures one of modern rock's most tortured figures. She is so hurt, so desperate, as her mouth makes a creaky noise, filled more beautifully with emotion than tune.
Marshall's fragile and fierce voice stretches a thin film of sadness across the 11 songs making up the fantastic, yet extremely depressing, Moon Pix. Vocally, her feel is akin to that of Neil Young's rusted spirit on Tonight's The Night. She essentially sets her songs in the realm of her Matador indie mates, but transcends them with her unique, haunting brand of folk music.
The feedback flare at the album's opening sucks you into the album's melancholy mood. By the time the thunder clouds roll in on the fourth song "Say," Marshall has pulled you even deeper into her world of pained, finger-picked passion. Before the end of "Moonshiner," she is captivating your psyche with shrieks of, "You're already in hell / I wish we could go to hell." And two songs later, she delivers the excruciatingly beautiful "Colors and the Kids," the album's best track.
"It must be the colors and the kids that keep me alive," she says during the album's only piano-based track. "Because the music is boring me to death."
Marshall imagines herself in a new emotional landscape, walking along a colorful path some distance from the lonely bore gnawing at her blue heart. She puts herself on a sandy beach. In the water. She feels the limbs of someone who can remember her name. She tries to stay in these mental places only to dream of becoming someone different - "Some one better."
Marshall rips your heart out, slowly, through the course of 45 minutes. And for this reason, she has made one of the best (and worst?) albums of the decade. Perfect music for the lonely loser in all of us, but too dark for an everyday listen, Moon Pix is a rare exploration of absolute misery. A strange, and dark accomplishment. But a tremendous feat nonetheless.