Mar 2024 31

Album CoverThe Children…
Album: A Sudden Craving
Category: Experimental / Rock
Label: Erototox Decodings
Release Date: 2024-03-01
Author: Duke Togo (Golgo13)


Listening to A Sudden Craving, one has to sympathize with The Children…’s plight of striving for new ways to experiment in a day and age that is so oversaturated with virtually any kind of sound or musical style one can imagine. Still, the trio of Michael Wiener, Jim Coleman, and Phil Puleo have 15 years together to at least give it the ol’ proverbial college try, with the album delivering some mixed results in the process. There’s a discernible rawness to these 10 songs, which is pretty refreshing given the widespread availability and propensity for cleaner production values, and this is most notably felt in Wiener’s vocals – never lacking in emotion, but devoid of finesse (and perhaps deliberately so to maintain purity and earnestness) as he shifts between a passable mid-range and a falsetto that, although not without its uses, is executed so loosely that it can come across as more humorous, which is clearly not the intention with such doom-laden numbers as the opening “God is a Bereaved” and “Woven Mother Aflame.” He scales it back for the rest of the album, using it mainly as a harmony device, which services the repetitions of “Second Hand Embrace” pretty well as the melody has a slightly Adrian Belew-esque quirk amid the discord of acoustic guitar, bass, and noisy electronics. Others like the pastoral and serene “Their Autumn was Erased” and the dreamy, psychedelic ‘60s quality of “Breathing Shards” are airier in tone, Kirsten McCord’s scraping string accompaniments adding nicely to the ambience, while occasional horn sections add a bluesy, almost noir-ish vibe to “Gelded Half Moon” and “Guiding Your Age Her Way.” But it’s on “Why Silly” that the horns really go into a more epic territory as the song, aided by muscular and processional drums, sounds like a soundtrack for an ancient empirical civilization, while the reversed and delay effects on the pianos of “Smothered My Traces” create a uniquely disjointed effect, along with some more horns and Wiener’s falsetto returning for a soulful rendition of an almost hymnal melody. The only major misstep arrives with “Mellon Faced Briar,” for while the underlying bass riff (possibly) courtesy of John Nowlin is excellent, Wiener’s voice delves into unhinged repetitions to mirror a false echo, and the effect is quite repellant. Beyond that, A Sudden Craving is a challenging experiment of clashing moods and organic sound design that some might compare to Swans at that band’s grandest; this would make sense as Swans member Norman Westberg does provide some guitar textures on the album, although that’s not the most major point of attention. The Children… certainly does offer an alternative from the usual stream of modern rock, and does truly show an adventurous spirit throughout the album. However, it won’t be an easy time for those uninterested in something very… other.
Track list:

  1. God is a Bereaved
  2. Woven Mother Aflame
  3. Breathing Shards
  4. Gelded Half Moon
  5. Second Hand Embrace
  6. Why Silly
  7. Guiding Your Age Her Way
  8. Mellon Faced Briar
  9. Their Autumn was Erased
  10. Smothered My Traces

The Children…
Erototox Decodings
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