Emily Haines's first widely released solo album, Knives Don't Have Your Back, is heavy in pianos and melancholy songs. I'll admit that I've grown fond of her girlish exploits on songs such as "Swimmers" and "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl." It's not like we expected Haines to sound like a Canadian Fergie, right?
Haines does call on members of the Arts & Crafts family for her backup band, the Soft Skeleton -- although we're still left without the Feist-Haines collabo, damn it. A few of the album's gems come early, including "Our Hell" and "Doctor Blind." Haines supplies a bevy of other emotional tracks, most notably "Crowd Surf Off a Cliff" and "Mostly Waving." She even reminds us on "The Maid Needs a Maid" that "bros before hoes is a rule; read the guidelines." Nelson Muntz would be proud.
Some say the album is a bit too heavy on broken-hearted takes or that it's too much of a contrast to Haines's work with Metric. But I have always looked at the darker side of that band, instead of the disco-dancing fury that many of its songs induce. And with Knives Don't Have Your Back, we get a deeper look into that darker side of Haines's life.
She may not excel on her solo album the way she has with Broken Social Scene or Metric, but it's still a rainy-day listen. Still, it's probably not best to digest all at once, because the melodies and vocals can become repetitive at times.
It took me about a year to really warm to Metric. But in short doses, over time, it has become one of my favorite bands. I am not sure if Haines's album will have the same effect, but there are more than enough songs to latch onto. And yes, although the hipster purists will whine about the art and the meaning of the album, a few girlish exploits couldn't have hurt.
Artist: http://www.emilyhaines.com/"Doctor Blind" MP3
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