A reissue of Carissa's Wierd's best work sets mournfully deadpan vocals against a vibrant bed of strings and accordions.
A reissue of Carissa's Wierd's best work sets mournfully deadpan vocals against a vibrant bed of strings and accordions. Brian Marr
- Song: "The Color That Your Eyes Changed With the Color of Your Hair"
- Artist: Carissa's Wierd
- CD: They'll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996-2003
- Genre: Folk-Rock
It's not an insult to suggest that Carissa's Wierd was born to be an also-ran: A raggedy Seattle outfit with an intentional misspelling in its name, the group broke up in 2003 after a string of albums which showcase a variety of drawn-out, oddly pretty, usually quiet, often cumbersomely titled folk-rock songs.
Carissa's Wierd has attracted a good deal of attention in its afterlife, in part because its members have gone on to varying degrees of notability. Mat Brooke was in Band of Horses (with fellow CW alum Ben Bridwell) and went on to form Grand Archives, while Jenn Ghetto has recorded under another problematic name, S. Even one of Carissa's Wierd's drummers, Sera Cahoone, has released a pair of wonderful solo records.
Ghetto and Brooke recently re-acquired the rights to the independently released (and out of print) Carissa's Wierd back catalog, and have put together an appropriately titled compilation, They'll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996-2003. Taken as a whole, the disc highlights the band's strengths (a flair for wounded grace, a seemingly innate gift for majestic arrangements) and weaknesses (a tendency to bury its vocals in the mix), while making a strong case for the uninitiated to get on board, however belatedly.
Songs' most shimmering highlight, "The Color That Your Eyes Changed With the Color of Your Hair," is a five-and-a-half-minute gem from 2001's You Should Be at Home Here. Setting Brooke's mournful, deadpan vocals against a vibrant bed of strings and accordions, the song is a bit of an exercise in Smiths-ian self-pity: "Seal this envelope with a heart that's been beaten black, beaten blue, beaten all over again," he moans, with occasional harmonies from Ghetto. But while the words paint a familiar picture of love gone wrong — she changed, he didn't — the instrumentation blooms with a sort of stormy, defiant beauty. It all paints a perfectly muddled picture of a band that could seem gawky and surly and a little unsure of itself, yet couldn't help but let its own brilliance peek through the clouds.