The Dark Water Hymnal
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Feb. 25, 2011
The Dark Water HymnalCollapse the Structure
The Dark Water Hymnal's previous two releases drew upon the evocative narratives wrought by Jeremy Ballard, but with Collapse the Structure, the locals finally deploy an equally powerful musical purpose. Ballard's vocals swoon and peel as he unravels a teeth-clenched desperation, opening tracks "Whole City Glows" and "Chandeliers" shot through with a direness rivaling the National. If Ballard only catches broken glimpses of scenes as he thrashes at the world in frustration, Andrea Couch's violin provides the steadying force that allows the songs to then rebuild, especially on "Wherever We Are." A Broken Social Scene-like drive pushes past lulls such as "Hold Fast," while "Center of the Spark" hearkens fellow locals the Lovely Sparrows. Aggressive turns like "The Quiet" and the percussively broiled "Wind and Waves" fit awkwardly, but with Collapse, the Austin quintet breaks out of any self-defeatist mold. DWH dares to be grand, though they're not yet convinced of it themselves.