Shark Week by c.layne

c.layne has a knack for writing concept albums that don't know they're concept albums. Antonymic, his debut, was psychedelic lo-fi genius that had some curious themes running throughout if you were lucky enough to catch enough of his woozy, reverberated vocals. The grainy, MP3-ravaged sound, offset by synthbasses and softly-falling synths and chiming guitars, made him stand out amongst the Song Fight! crowd. Abandoned followups like Drawing Shapes With Sounds built on Antonymic's sonics, but by 2007, he had cleaned it all up and was onto making sure people could actually make out his voice. The result is probably his masterwork: enter Shark Week.

Shark Week ups the production values, performances, and songwriting from his earlier works all in one go. Don't be fooled by "You Think You're So Clever", the bubbly opener built on screeching strings and loopy acoustic guitars. Songs flow from one to the next, ease in and out of atmospheric theatrics, and somehow go from the sea to the sky in the span of an hour. The album takes an interesting detour into the vacuum of space halfway through; "Spacesick" and "Abell 1835 IR 1916" trade in depictions of being ripped apart and getting caught on hooks for the confusion and ennui of being alone in a world alien to our own. "The Places We Visit" shows c.layne acknowledging the trip in a glitchy, breathy voice. It's not for everyone, but those who can appreciate its cold, disconnected world will be greatly rewarded.

(I've linked to the Bandcamp page on the right not just because I'd like you to pay for this if you're inclined, but also because the Spotify version is mastered quite badly, with silence added between crossfades. It's a mess. Buy this one, or at least download it.)

Shark Week

Essential: "Abell 1835 IR 1916", "Chlorophyll", "The Places We Visit"
Quintessential: "Octopus Trees"
Non-essential: It's all pretty important to the album tbh

Rating: Classic
Listen on Bandcamp