First of all, no, this is not any kind of false persona fakery. Hayden Silas Anhedönia/Ethel Cain is everything most of those other “artists” are not, never were, and never could be. Forget about Banks or Grimes or whoever. If you want any reference point then Nicole Dollanganger and Edith Underground are your comparables, if you need some.
“Authenticity” is a highly debatable concept in evaluating any performative art but the “Ethel Cain” persona is an authentic artistic construct that allows Anhedönia the freedom to pursue a canonical song cycle (of which this album is the first in a projected trilogy), an epic of a “Southern Gothic” odyssey into the dark corners of hearts, bedrooms, churches, back seats, trailer parks, and farmhouses down the street, with their corpses in the basement freezer. And there is always Jesus, looking down on us, a boyfriend, a father, a lover, a "savior", and a Big Brother all wrapped into one constant haunting presence. From the LOBF interview: “For me, she’s more than a musical character. She is the person I could see myself becoming, and she is the person I don’t want to be. She’s very much going down this fork in the road, and I need to go the other way.”
The absolute genius of the Inbred EP and its astonishing set of songs should be the starting point for any understanding of this debut album. Ethel’s world is full of beauty and terror, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart. The six songs on that EP provide one key for navigating this album. You have to build the story from all the elements that are presented both inside and outside this album to get the total context of where this is headed. The final project will be massive and may include books and a film (or films). Ethel Cain is not simply a character. She is a world.
For the album itself: just listen. You are witness to a revelation.
"Blessed be the Daughters of Cain, bound to suffering eternal through the sins of their fathers committed long before their conception
Blessed be their whore mothers, tired and angry waiting with bated breath in a ferry that will never move again
Blessed be the children, each and every one come to know their god through some senseless act of violence
Blessed be you, girl, promised to me by a man who can only feel hatred and contempt towards you
I am no good nor evil, simply I am, and I have come to take what is mine
I was there in the dark when you spilled your first blood
I am here now as you run from me still
Run then, child
You can’t hide from me forever"
"Found you just to tell you that I made it real far
And that I never blamed you for loving me the way that you did while you were torn apart
I would still wait with you there
Don't think about it too hard
Or you'll never sleep a wink at night again
Don't worry 'bout me and these green eyes
Mama, just know that I love you (I do)
And I'll see you when you get here"
|1||Family Tree (Intro) / 100|
|2||American Teenager / 100|
|3||A House In Nebraska / 100|
|4||Western Nights / 100|
|5||Family Tree / 100|
|6||Hard Times / 100|
|7||Thoroughfare / 100|
|8||Gibson Girl / 100|
|9||Ptolemaea / 100|
|10||August Underground / 100|
|11||Televangelism / 100|
|12||Sun Bleached Flies / 100|
|13||Strangers / 100|