Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton : Knives Don't Have Your Back
Written by: Karla Cornejo
Where the 60's found the voice of its generation in Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, those of us who feel we were born in the wrong decade keep looking for a voice to represent our own. Every once in a while, someone really good comes along who is billed as the real deal but turns out to be a false prophet. Other times, we look to an artist with a promising track record and except them to accomplish great things. Emily Haines is such an artist.
Watch the video for Dr Blind , off the album Knives Don't Have Your Back , by clicking the play button in the Galaxy Media Player above and to the right.
The success of Emily Haines’ solo album Knives Don’t Have Your Back rests on its ability to convey all the right, or right-sounding emotions. Haines, lead singer of Metric, is no stranger to poignant, sanguine indie rock. She seems to have claimed her niche, and gloomy, introspective songs work for her frothy, twangy voice. Her former standing as an electro-pop chanteuse (with Metric) is well-deserved, because her music, brooding and earnest, is also shockingly invigorating and introspective.
In The Lottery, Haines croons about a “sexual suicide”, stilettos and the burning of bras. She waxes poetic on drug addiction in Dr. Blind. The topics are abrasive and the lyrics blunt , but her voice, jaded and tortured sets the ambiance for the record. Each individual song is strong, with meat-and-potatoes harmonies and ethereal vocals. Holistically, however, some songs comes across as being good simply because it can and not because it has anything new or novel to say. Emily Haines seems to have lost that childlike inhibition that makes other female singer-songwriters like Cat Power so charming. Haines, experienced and worldly, is a woman. In The Maid Needs a Maid, she whispers sensuously “because I would love to pay for you/You could be a good wife to me/You are the maid for me”. Haines’ vulnerability is intact, but she does not need anyone to save her. Any hint defenselessness she may try to convey through her songs is strategically placed. For example, on Crowd Surf Off a Cliff, she croons “ if you find me, hide me, I don't know where I've been/ when you phone me tell me everything I did/ if I'm sorry you lost me you'd better make it quick/cause this call costs a fortune and it's late where you live”.
It’s that sort of divine normality that makes this album so compelling, if someone lazy holistically. Here’s to hoping every song on her next record is as good as The Maid Needs a Maid. She may not be the voice of our generation, but rest assured, Emily Haines is here to stay.