True Widow – s/t

True Widow - s/t

True Widow - True Widow

True Widow‘s self titled debut trudges along in sullen moods. This Dallas, Texas, three piece play slowcore lined with shoegaze and the heavier sounds of 1990’s alternative rock. These ten songs have guarded strengths but many are ultimately forgettable.

The one or two standout tracks dwarf the rest of the album. Although song titles and lyrics change, the sonics and atmosphere stay the same. Playing good slowcore is a challenge because songwriters and musicians risk sounding disinterested. Sadly, that sometimes happens here.

True Widow’s brand of slowcore is sedated, minimalist, and dark. Sometimes they’re damn near morbid. Lumbering verses lead to choruses that flicker with life, reaching for hooks like a hand pushing out of the dirt. Thick chords buzz and sound best when the high end rings out. Moody leads lend the songwriting some support. While most leads grace only a few select notes, the better ones branch further, emoting and countering the sedate atmosphere. The guitar tone has some weight that’s used with restraint. The bass guitar is always solid behind the six string’s presence, and the drummer makes good use of cymbals to create dynamics. The drowsy vocal is talk-sung, drawing out the personal, metaphorical lyrics. Emotion usually picks up with the chorus, and the occasional female accompaniment or lead always works.

The songs, nearly all of them over four and half minutes long, hold few surprises. The album’s first and arguably brightest highlight is “Duelist”. Drums and bass rumble to the buzzing, chugging guitar. The song’s simplicity is appealing and grabs a mild hook. The female vocal provides a strong contrast to the album’s mood.  “Corpse Master” features minimalist guitar work over the slow and grounded rhythm. The twilight sounds comfort like a warm, dank basement. A hook appears after four minutes and the song starts picking up. This track, coming halfway through the album, is a good showcase of the band’s sound. “Bleeder” conveys a battle weary determination. After some throbbing transitions and stirring instrumental part, the vocal sings softly , “All movement ends / the time, it’s gone / waves have no memory of the warmth / and another day is done / Apart from ardor, tied up hands / a deeper water will expand / and another day is done”.

The remaining tracks push in the same direction but get mixed results. Sometimes the songs drag to the finish line, unable to find redemption in the flecks of color afforded by the guitars leads, well produced tones, and buried choruses. But True Widow show promise in this debut. Slowcore fans and anyone ready to embrace a bit of seasonal depression should listen.