White Sea “In Cold Blood”

M83’s female vocal powerhouse Morgan Kibby will release In Cold Blood as White Sea, her new solo project, on Tuesday, May 20th. Her track “Future Husbands Past Lives” got me very excited to hear the rest of the effort. It was a grand departure from her work with M83, and its vibrant dance quality was a unique touch.

The album’s opening track “They Don’t Know” will feel somewhat familiar to those who have heard Kibby’s work on M83’s last two albums. It’s a heavy hitting, triumphant sounding track packed with everything from rattling synthesizers to bells that sound like they’re definitely being smashed by a huge hammer being wielded by a shiny muscular man named Bjorn in the Scandinavian hillside. This is that classic action sports YouTube video stuff we’re used to from Kibby.

I really enjoy the intensity and fervor that Kibby brings to us with In Cold Blood. When an artist is unafraid to show that they’ve got something to say, and they’ve got the musical prowess to bring it straight into us without cutting it with tonic first, you get the kind of unapologetic approach to music that I admire. That said, there were a few lyrical moments in the album that made me grind my teeth. After a few listens, I’ve realized that I will find myself permanently irked by these moments, and for the overall effort of this album, that’s a real shame. Allow myself to explain… myself.

On “For My Love,” an emotional number about that classic “who wants what and why” struggle in a romantic–in this case selfishly sexual–relationship, Kibby says “… but you just want that pussy. You know that you can’t (or can) have me.” I thought I might have misheard her, but then she clears that notion up by belting this lyric many more times.

It made me immediately think about a poetry class I took as a sophomore in college… to expand my horizons. The professor had to constantly remind students to be careful when using certain words in their writing. It was drilled into our heads that the wrong use of such words just made it look like you were trying to force impact instead of creating it eloquently. If you were going to use four letter words in your writing, they should cut like a sharpened blade–not like a dull knife, annoying the skin more than damaging it. Well, on another track that is clearly about her prowess and amount of fucks that Kibby gives (hint: It’s less than one), she lets us know that she’ll “fuck you blind and make a run for it.” I don’t even know what that means!

I could mention a few more, but that would be ruining the fun. I hate to make it sound like I’m ruining the fun that is this album. But these contagious moments do take some of the tracks that have Maya Angelou potential and turn them into open mic poetry slam performances where the passion just seems forced.

In Cold Blood has many beautiful moments–some hit hard, and others are more gentle. Some get you dancing a bit in your seat; some seem designed for quiet reflection about the heavier times in life. Some of them are really complete and solid; some of them are ultimately shattered by lyrics that sound like a young, aspiring poet trying to put her foot down and her fist up. She’s trying to let the world know she’s here, and that she doesn’t care how many suburban moms are offended by her use of the words “fuck” and “pussy.”

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