Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide, out this week on Yep Roc, is the fifth full-length from the beloved
Tarheel band – and a near-masterpiece.
By Michael Toland
Ever lament the fact that you don’t have very many records
in the “O” section of your collection? Maybe Outrageous Cherry and the Only
Ones. Well, fear not, because once you hear Fairytales
and Other Forms of Suicide, the fifth LP and big indie debut from the Old
Ceremony, you’ll fill your Os up fast.
The pleasures of OC are twofold. On the one hand are the
acoustic-based yet cinematic arrangements, which blend wide-ranging folk,
atmospheric rock and pretty much any other sound the band feels like borrowing
or adapting to its cause. On the other hand is the imaginative songwriting by
leader Django Haskins, the kind of tunesmith that makes you wonder why you
haven’t heard of his work before – this is an individual who understands craft.
For example, the strange tale of “Beebe Arkansas,” which saw a mystifying rain
of dying blackbirds, could be used as mere novelty, but Haskins convincingly
evokes the boggled minds of observers without histrionics. “The Royal We” takes
on the airs of the privileged and makes its point without descending into rage
and name-calling. The shimmering “Star By Star” sits comfortably by the lovely
“Elsinore,” while the woozy “Catbird Blues” contrasts
with the nearly strident march of the title track. The psychedelic sheen of
“Middle Child” shares time with the straightforward rock/pop of “Sink or Swim,”
which could and should become the band’s calling card.
These are the types of songs that induce frenzied searching
through record stores to find everything the band has ever done. After
listening to these Fairytales, the
next response should be “more more more.”