The For Carnation

Sick of sexed-up moppets and empty-headed Teen Spirit-soaked “music” so saccharine it induces psychosis? The For Carnation must be, or the band wouldn’t have crafted a record that lends note and voice to stark hopelessness as this does. Aside from its cinematic, noir-ish quality, the kind of Brechtian “unsettling presence” you’d expect to find in a David Lynch flick, what’s absorbing are the arrangements. On some records, not noticing the arrangements is the object. Here, the sparseness attracts. The dirge-like "Emp. Man’s Blues" is mesmerizing in its eerie, loosely woven starkness—strings rise and fall; space echoes spiral off into nowhere. Frontman Brian McMahan emotes numbly and calculatedly over drums that beat like Poe’s telltale heart, announcing its presence from beneath the floorboards. One thing’s clear as spit: The end is near. And the For Carnation is more than happy to show you the way.