Casper Skulls

Knows No Kindness

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Knows No Kindness Review

by James Christopher Monger

The full-length sophomore effort from the Toronto-based indie rockers, the ruminative and nostalgia-driven Knows No Kindness dials back some of the post-punk-influenced '90s guitar pop of its predecessor. Built around the memories of vocalist Melanie St-Pierre's rural Ontario upbringing, the ten-song set pairs Canterbury Tales-esque small-town narratives with stark moments of childhood trauma, all of which are set against a backdrop of measured yet immaculate provincial folk-rock that evokes names like Big Thief, Great Lakes Swimmers, and Neko Case. The band peppers St. Pierre's homespun stories with an evocative mix of twangy guitars and ambient synths, with the occasional crescendo spiraling into the night sky like an emergency flare. Standout cuts like "Thesis," "Ouija," and "Rose of Jericho" feel as expansive as they do lived-in and local, due in large part to St. Pierre's expressive, throaty alto, which bears the weight of each emotional experience with remarkable poise. Knows No Kindness is by far the group's most subdued outing to date, and its long runtime and penchant for subtle, sonic world-building provides plenty of opportunities for the listener's attention to drift. Still, multiple spins reveal hidden depths, and the band possesses enough pop acumen to pull you back in when you least expect it.

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