Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Cerulean Salt [Don Giovanni, 2013] A-
  • Ivy Tripp [Merge, 2015] *
  • Out in the Storm [Merge, 2017] A
  • Saint Cloud [Merge, 2020] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Cerulean Salt [Don Giovanni, 2013]
Drums shake her confusion free and burgeoning, 'tho still strummed drone and strain?d syntax drag her down, and ere her sister stun the fragile leaves of their esteem, she'll test her wings and bring the bolewood to the shattered oak that truly needs it. Radio grows big in her imaginings, as she swan dives inside the confines of her car horn house, and sometimes we believe we care, what happens in the tuneful drywall of her shambling dreams. A-

Ivy Tripp [Merge, 2015]
Hold on to your feelings, but put down that thesaurus until you've got a firmer grip ("Breathless," "Summer of Love") *

Out in the Storm [Merge, 2017]
Here be the tunefully bish-bash nonstop document of a breakup recollected in tranquility--only she's not tranquil, she's pissed and makes something of it, so instead stay at a distance, because finally she's kicked the asshole out of her band as well as her bed. Psychologically, the tell is: "You were so condescending / You wrote me in, gave me a part / See, I always gravitate toward / Those who are unimpressed." Not anymore--with no romantic entanglements to sing of, she's more than content with family, friends, and an all-female band so impressed they love her to pieces. And since she's chosen this moment of emotional clarity to deploy not only verbal clarity but the syntax it deserves, I'm all in. Any guy who'd condescend to this forthright young woman has got serious problems. Too many guys do. A

Saint Cloud [Merge, 2020]
Her guitar parts echoing readymades so approximately and unaffectedly they sound fresh all over again, her soft voice so casual and personable and smart, she's more winning than ever on the love/relationship/self-knowledge songs up front. I enjoy the way "Witches" name-drops her three best friends later on, too. But I can't help but feel or maybe hope that the recovery songs that gather toward the end, while by no means bathetic or self-regarding, are specialty items prized by some but over the heads of most of us, like manga or single malt scotch. Just not life experiences we know much about, even second-hand. A-