Words by Ross Edwards
Sweater Set's new album Goldmine expands the songwriting genre as it seems, paradoxically, to take a step backward in time. It is the leading ladies who stand out here as brilliant and original, the multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Maureen Andary and Sara Curtin, each songwriter represented by seven songs on the album throughout. It is a markedly consistent album, in sound and in songwriting, mostly lyrically concerned with the many aspects of love. The album explores the hearts, desires, sorrows, apologies, and warm kinships of Sara and Maureen.
Firstly, the production of the album is sparklingly clean, allowing the female protagonists to paint their personalities on the songwriting canvas with absolute clarity and accuracy. The ukulele-laden sequences are simple while the melodies familiar, shining through in snarky idiosyncrasies, as when Maureen Andary sings earnestly "health is sexy," on “Happy.” They can express a range of emotions effortlessly, from ethereal escapism on "Downstream," to eager (yet contained) bitterness on "The Breaker." Though multi-themed, Goldmine congeals with ideas of pulling through hardships however possible, together, not through denial or ignorance but appreciation and realization of love, however "imperfect."
Curtin sings sorrowfully on "Who's Sorry:" "No matter how you wear it/ The heart is bound to break in time." This stanza underlines perhaps the saddest and most pervasive realities ever contemplated, yet here it is, approached delicately, serenely, and without any attempt to dilute or cover the problems of heartbreak. Who hasn't been anxiously struck by the thought that a great love, however protected, will at some point in time end in turmoil, whether by human decision or nature? Yet the beautiful musical presentation of this idea is more revealing because these voices harmonized and intertwined is profoundly compelling in itself. It is beautiful and pure and capable of synthesizing human lives into concise song-poems far greater than the sum of its parts and its players. That is the power of the two. And like many great albums, Goldmine grows on the listener.
The Sweater Set is playing at Rockwood Music Hall on Saturday, May 14th, $5 suggested