The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 1:12 p.m.
CD Reviews | Style & Culture

CD Review: The Casket Girls – “Sleepwalking”

Chance meeting quickly leads to intriguing debut record

The Greene sisters, Elsa and Phaedra, were playing Autoharp and singing in a public square in Savannah, Ga., when musician Ryan Graveface first heard them.

He watched them from a distance for some time before approaching them with the idea of starting a band.

The formation of The Casket Girls was sudden. Their debut album, “Sleepwalking,” was completed only a few months after the band’s shaping this year and was released on Graveface’s independent record label, Graveface Records.

Their collaboration album alternated between Graveface’s instrumental tracks and the Greene sisters’ lyrics and vocals. Drummer TW Walsh added heavier drum beats to Graveface’s weaker drum machine elements.

Their sound is a combination of bittersweet melodies, distortion and the eerie vocal harmonies of the Greene sisters.

The first single, “Sleepwalking” delivers an upbeat but strangely dark mixture of pop music and sinister lyrics. Their small, singsong voices croon, “This road only goes so far / The firefly caught in a bell jar / We all know death is a big black dog.”

You don’t even realize that they’re discussing death until they chime in with, “I’m not afraid to die.” Their voices are haunting and meld together to create a multifaceted tone.

At times, they sound like children, speaking softly and allowing their voices to tangle. Other times, their voices are strong and sweet, calling back and forth while they sing in a round.

“Walking on a Wire” begins with strong distortion and a simple melody before the thumping drums appear and the music escalates to an increasingly faster pace. Their voices almost yodel as they alternate between octaves.

In “Heartless,” the peppy drums and synthesizers create an upbeat dance song that sounds like a throwback to the ‘80s. It could be mistaken for a Blondie or Cyndi Lauper song, if you removed the static and noise.

Somehow, despite the fact that there are few dance songs on the album, it works for them. The tone is deeper than your typical pop song, and they add a level of complexity through their clever and gloomy lyrics.

“The Visitor” is a bizarre spoken-word story about a young girl who encounters a woman watching her from outside her bedroom window, which turns out to be the ghost of her dead mother. The woman entertains the girl by dancing and despite the song’s creepy mood, it is more playful than scary.

On “Give It All Away,” a pleasant tune plays before the drums introduce the harmonies. We are then introduced to an assortment of noises that can best be described as the sound of chainsaws.

“You placed your bets when there was nothing left / You made your enemies into family,” they sing, as the song builds to a climax.

Throughout the album, the rich sound plays well with the moody, often strange, lyrics.

Yet, somehow, it’s not depressing.

They have managed to deliver a strong and surprisingly charming collection of songs that work well individually and as a whole. They draw on elements of music from the past and still manage to find a fresh voice of their own.

They’re a little weird, but in a good way. You’ll find yourself glad that they all happened to be standing on that street in Savannah.

Grade: B+