Album Reviews

Chelsea Wolfe – She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She

(Loma Vista) UK release date: 9 February 2024

The 13th album from California’s Queen of Darkness is undoubtedly one of her best

Chelsea Wolfe - She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She It takes a certain amount of commitment to firmly root yourself in one musical mode, especially when your career lasts more than a couple of album cycles. But that’s something that’s true – defiantly so – of California’s reigning Queen of Darkness, Chelsea Wolfe. Her commitment to the dark side of life, and her willingness to soundtrack it, is both enviable and evokes a certain sense of sympathy, especially if we consider that great art is at least partially informed by the impulses of its creator.

She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She is Wolfe’s 13th (lucky for some?) album in 18 years (with nine of those being ‘proper’ studio albums, not soundtracks or collaborations), and it’s undoubtedly one of her best, which is no small feat considering that her last ‘proper’ studio album – 2019’s largely listless Birth Of Violence – was, arguably, one of her least interesting.

The album opens with a crushingly oppressive trip-hop/industrial hybrid in Whispers In The Echo Chamber, an immediate confirmation that this is a return to a more recognisable style. It’s haunted, and haunting, throughout – different elements evoke Portishead, Nine Inch Nails and even aspects of Rammstein or Marilyn Manson in its chugging crescendo.

House of Self-Undoing keeps up the relentless mood with an insistent mechanical rhythm and soaring vocal passages. Everything Turns Blue dips back into trip-hop but dowses it in tar until it’s suitably blackened. Throughout the song, searing guitars crash against Wolfe’s bewitching voice a little too seamlessly, resulting in a kind of horrifying uncanny valley that never quite seems to make sense, in the best possible way.

Tunnel Lights sounds like it came from St Vincent’s mind if she were being pursued by Jack Torrance, and the gunshot percussion that appears towards the end of the song is utterly devastating. The Liminal moves at a measured, almost glacial pace, off the back of a simple piano figure, and Eyes Like Nightshade reaches Throbbing Gristle levels of tension – always threatening to explode. It never does. Salt offers a welcome respite from all the terror, reaching a kind of sonic harmony you might even consider therapeutic. That, of course, doesn’t last long. Unseen World and especially Place In The Sun – genuinely – evoke the sound The National were going for on Sleep Well Beast, which makes them quite the outliers in terms of accessibility. They’re amongst the easiest songs she’s ever produced.

Each and every song here would sound completely at home as closing credits music for any number of fantastic horror movies. Not necessarily because of the finality of the songs, but rather because they conjure an unnameable, hideous feeling that is generally only experienced after witnessing something terrifying.

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More on Chelsea Wolfe
Chelsea Wolfe – She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She
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Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty