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The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Neko Case - 2013

My wife was in a car crash last week. Both drivers walked away unscathed but you're never prepared for that paralyzing helplessness when you first get the news. Those few seconds of stunned silence seem to last forever. There are similar devastating moments on Neko's ninth album. The lyrics concern death and things far worse. From "I wanted so badly not to be me" to "I've revenged myself all over myself/there's nothing you can say to me" it's a bumpy ride to say the least. The songs deal with dark personal topics like Case's absent parents growing up and the passing of her beloved grandmother. Even the more upbeat track 'Man' with M. Ward on guitar can't bring relief and Case spits each bitter line. "I'm a man/that's what you raised me to be/I'm not an identity crisis/this was planned/you didn't know what a man was/until I showed you." Every track shoulders this same burden and yet, the songs are so concise and perfectly planned that it keeps the record from collapsing under it's own weight. Make no mistake though, it's a tormented album. Some works of art pack such a punch that you only want to experience them once and there were times on this album that it reminded me of standing in the Holocaust Tower in Berlin or staring at Damien Hirst's Away From the Flock. There is one song in particular that is altogether crushing. 'Nearly Midnight, Honolulu' is a demon. No subject matter hits me harder than child abuse and I find the real life account of an incident in Hawaii to be truly horrifying. I haven't come across a more arresting a cappella pop song since Tori Amos wrote about her rape on 'Me & a Gun.' Luckily, the album closes with the song Ragtime. It's the would be sympathetic slap on the back from a stranger at the bar, "hey buddy, shit happens, drink up." Overall, TWTGTHIFTHIFTMILY reminds me of the Churchill quote; "if you're going through hell, keep going." It's every bit as twisted as the album art suggests but it's a cathartic experience for artist and listener. In the end, the message from 'The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You' is to be grateful. I'm not sure there's a better sentiment to take from a pop/rock record these days.

Posted by C. Scott

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Posted: 09/26/2013

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C. Scott


C. Scott ranks this as the
#5 favorite album of 2013

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