SJ Esau

Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse

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Branching out from Anticon's normally hip-hop-inspired catalog (although SJ Esau, or Samuel Wisternoff, was a rapper as a child), Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse plays with post-rock experimentation, with little of even the electronica leanings that dictate the label's releases. Instead, the album is all about indie rock, complete with fiddle, keyboards, acoustic guitars, and nasally vocals -- drums kicking in and instrumental layers occasionally rising to lush orchestrated noise -- mostly sticking to simple, delicate riffs and vaguely nonsensical lyrics about cats, alcohol, worry creases, and other half-intelligible lines about seemingly quotidian activities placed into otherworldly environments. Esau's voice -- part singsongy whine, part breathy croon -- works well as a vessel for the absurdity he's trying to convey, but its contrast to the relatively straightforward, repetitive, even occasionally boring instrumentals behind him can be off-putting. Bass and piano lines often echo the vocal melody, making everything seem a little overstated and not very creative, experimental only in the sense that it doesn't care to stick to traditional song structure, not that it does anything particularly interesting with what it has. Yes, Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse is pretty enough, but only in the kind of overarching way the word is used when it just means that nothing really sticks out, that everything is generally nice but there's not much that grabs at you. Those moments that do, the Futureheads-esque harmonies of "All Agog," the hints of indie electronica in "Wears the Control," the heavy upright bass in "Queezy Beliefs," show the promise of what could be, moments that break through the mediocrity of the rest of the album and explore slightly less-treaded terrain. But having to squelch through the muck and debris and indie stone path to get to that ends up being more effort than it's worth.

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