Lion Devours the Sun
ccording to Matthew Sweet, “this is not folk music.” If his first full-length Lion Devours The Sun is anything to go by, it’s best not to disagree. After the success of last year’s self-titled EP, Boduf Songs is back—in a much fouler mood.
Like Sweet’s first solo offering, Lion Devours The Sun was recorded at home onto four-track using little more than a carelessly tuned acoustic guitar and a motley assortment of anything-to-hand “instruments.” Pretty standard fare for most bedroom musicians: except Sweet takes the paradigm to the extreme; recording not only in his bedroom, at night, but actually in his bed, under the covers. Headphone listening is a term liberally bandied around nowadays, but it’s fitting for Boduf Songs; imagine Iron & Wine’s resentful twin whispering into your ear and you’re pretty close to capturing the experience. Intimate undoubtedly—and also more than a little bit creepy.
The sinister tone is set by the trademark droning pick and the opening line: “Swarm of black flies / Pours from your mouth” akin to the equally evocative beginning of his EP: “I want to puke / A pitch-black rainbow / Of bile and tar / Up to the sun / To put it out.” Clearly Boduf doesn’t fuck about with introductions. The imagery gets no less vivid: ruminations on sex, loss, and regret are played out in dark forest landscapes, abandoned cabins, and murky underwater retreats; Sweet’s voice never rising above a crooning drone throughout. The miserly accompaniment of sparse plucked guitar and occasional, well-placed effects creates an unbelievably claustrophobic atmosphere that only slightly lifts at the very end of the album with the elegiac “Bell for Harness”—a song reminiscent of Gravenhurst’s post-rockier moments.
Boduf Songs has always had a predilection for the gothic. From the ornate Victorian sleeve of his EP to titles on his album like: “Green Lion devours the sun, blood descends to earth” and lyrics such as: “Bless with a rotten tongue / Pigs blood and sparrow wing / Spat from a wretched mouth / Sweet song of heresy,” it’s clear that Boduf Songs’ world is a pretty dark place. No fairytale castles and sweet poetasters here. If on his EP there was a tentativeness about his delivery that kept the mood merely pensive, Lion has a certainty that fluctuates somewhere between the world-weary and the outright bitter. On second viewing, Boduf Songs’ desolate landscape is flecked with a bit more spite.
Reviewed by: Paul Teasdale
Reviewed on: 2006-12-11