By Damien Rice
Anticipation for the second album from the Irish troubadour gradually built in the few years between the critically-lauded O and his second offering, the painfully beautiful 9. Rice's contemporary genius is such that it's almost as if he acknowledges the drooling jaws of the critics in his carefully constructed guitar-led introduction.
The verses see the singer-songwriter affirm his return to form from the equally deep 9 Crimes. Rice's vocals remain alluring and he retains his persona, driven by the want of a woman. The musical arrangements though, seem to have come on leaps and bounds, adding so much more to proceedings so that there are no awkward moments of Rice's repertoire when one feels there's lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. A crescendo builds two verses in as the frustration of modern living is demonstrated 'But we fake, we fuss, and fracture the times / We go blind when we needed to see' before the Rice-esque rant against a woman he loved who tore out his heart and beat it to a pulp.
Damien Rice is the songwriter of our times who perfectly articulates the looming aftermath of the relationship gone wrong, 'hate me so good / That you just let me out... It's hell when you're around'. The aggression and grief of the persona is communicated through Rice's vocals, but the vigorous motions of the music add another dimension to what could in any other hands, have been a senseless lament.
The narration continues, with the persona's desire for a resolution from the conflict 'What I want from this / Is learn to let go', although Rice is on another level and the listener learns that the ordeal will not be over with smoothly as the letting go is 'not of you'. Our alliance to Rice's demented lover is called into question as he reveals another, more sadistic side to him.
A welcome return to greatness: Rice at his best, angry and foaming with feeling.