NME.COM

Esben And The Witch - 'Wash The Sins Not Only The Face'

Brainy Brighton trio prove they’re both big and clever

  • Release Date 21 Jan, 2013
  • Producer Tom Morris, Esben And The Witch
  • Record Label Matador
7 / 10
Even the most depraved souls fantasise about wiping away transgressions with holy water, but some blemishes can’t be removed with a brush and soap. And as far as some thick-skulled zealots are concerned, Brighton trio Esben And The Witch come branded with a ‘WARNING – BRAINY BUNCH’ tattoo. They’re guilty of being a bit too clever-clever, and raising hackles among those who see cerebral cock-waggling as something to ward off with crucifixes and garlic.

All of which, of course, is utter rot. Esben’s lofty influences only make their gothic brew bubble all the more bewitchingly – and on ‘Wash The Sins…’, swotting and strutting go hand in hand. The charms of yore remain but now there’s a swaggering, full-blooded immediacy: ‘Slow Wave’ is a skittering, balmy brood, while ‘Deathwaltz’ is a sweetly sinister plea for redemption, all skin-prickling guitars and Rachel Davies’ resigned sighs.

Unlike 2011’s ‘Hexagons’ EP, there’s no danger of becoming lost in a blustery netherworld of foggy soundscapes with no choruses. Instead, there’s dark arts aplenty on ‘Despair’, but it’s all distilled into a splendid voodoo blitz of lust, violence and fragmented electronics. In contrast, ‘The Fall Of Glorieta Mountain’ is a thing of condensed-breath beauty. Somewhere in between lies epic swansong ‘Smashed To Pieces In The Still Of The Night’, ghoulish apparitions of regret flickering amid glitch-ridden swells of cacophonous noise as Rachel coldly repeats the title and clings to it like a mantra.

Call it highbrow, call it highfalutin, but with ‘Wash The Sins…’, Esben are carving hulking tablets of stone boasting that intellect is nothing to be scared of. No amount of splashing can scrub that out.
Ben Hewitt

Share This

More Reviews

Zoolander 2 - Film Review

Ben Stiller reprises his role as a former model in a throwaway but amusing sequel

Movie

Deadpool - Film Review

It’s not quite the superhero film revolution we were promised, but it sure as hell is entertaining

Movie

DIIV - 'Is The Is Are' Review

Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album

Album

Concussion - Film Review

The 'Oscar-bait' drama fails to fully translate the emotional weight from page to screen

Movie
Connect With Us
This Week's Magazine