Ghostly celebration of sound
Cross Record is a band that has consistently delivered a defying sound. Back in 2016, the band established itself with its first record, Wabi-Sabi. Since then, the band has reached a whole new level indeed. Filled with warmth, rhythm and sultry somber, Cross Record, their latest album, is a record that certainly knows what it’s capable of.
“What is Your Wish” is the opening track, where we first hear Emily Cross’ voice, dripping in reverb. It’s a voice so gentle and raspy, yet so eerily mechanic due to the vocal processing and robotic glitch effects. The juxtaposition is quite remarkable. The next song “Licorice” is a standout in the album. The band effortlessly blends elements of ambient soft rock with airy pads and Cross’ ghostly voice. She sings out “the sound is constant,” and there are these soft crashing cymbals that add breeze to the coolness of the song. It’s continually moving forward with a solid structure.
“Face Smashed, Drooling” is also a standout. Opening with sultry, trippy guitars and a slow-paced snare and kick, Cross delivers a message directed toward herself, singing: “A life turned all the way around/ I feel fear both ways/ and I can’t continue on.” At some points in the song, the band reaches these insane melodies and harmonies that are just jaw-dropping. There’s a uniqueness to it all where the elements in the track join together, and it’s breathtaking. Everything sounds so in tune.
“PYSOL, My Castle” features a more uplifting instrumental, where her voice smoothly rides amongst the soft drums played by Dan Duszynski. Like a dark, rebellious princess, she sings, “Put your shoes on/ leave my castle.” It’s playful, yet intriguing as it hides meaning. “All these people telling me what I should have/ who I should be” stings as a reminder of what should really matter to us all.
Cross impresses with her lyricism throughout the entire record. In “I Release You,” she turns the simple melancholic guitars into a story, painting a picture, a lesson to herself. She frailly sings, “Why am I afraid to leave what defines me.” Cross is speaking to herself, allowing us into her vulnerable mind: “It’s where I grow/ if the past teaches me.” It’s all beautifully laid out, and her lyricism truly impresses with concepts of personal freedom and growth.
The production gets more complex as we progress through the record. “The Fly” has a trance-like beat with faster-paced melodies and more upbeat percussion. The production is simple at first, then adds to itself, and then subtracts for a progressive listen. The same can be said in “Hollow Garden” where we start with Cross’ voice and harmonies. Then, the song leads into this experimental, grungy underground beat. The production is darker, sinister and strikes in the growling bass and jumping kicks.
Perhaps the wildest in terms of production is “Y/O Dragon.” Cross sings out, “Be a dragon; that’s how I’ll help myself. What am I?” Her vocals, questioning who she is, in turn, allow the beat to become whoever it is. The crashing drums come in and go crazy in their rhythm and tempo, bass hits hitting left and right while cymbals jingle back and forth. The song almost sounds like a war anthem; it finishes in serenity as the synthesizers gracefully fade everything out.
“An Angel, a Dove” has pockets of silence where Cross’ voice is paired with a flanged bass and nostalgic bells for a dreamy, trance-like vibe. “Sing the Song” is more experimental, Cross’ voice slowly coming into focus with multiple harmonies, singing “Have a child, throw dreams away, sing the song, say sorry.” It’s spiritual, harmonizing, and it is clear she’s as fragile as a feather. The final song, “I Am Painting” has vocal processing reminiscent of Bon Iver in 22, A Million. Cross’ voice has about 20 different pitches to it and sounds like an actual organ instrument. It’s stunning, especially when the drums come running in.
Cross Record is an album that is soft-spoken in the loudest way possible. Filled with raw emotion, it’s no wonder this band creates the quality of music it does. There’s something different and utterly irreplaceable in every song it makes, and the extent to which Cross’ vulnerably reaches in terms of opening up is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.