Esben and the Witch - Wash the Sins Not Only the Face (3 stars)

Esben and the Witch - Wash the Sins Not Only the Face

Harrowing, furrow-browed and worthy follow-up to debut

(Matador)

Like The Horrors with the darkness turned up to 11, Brighton trio Esben and the Witch make music which sounds like it was beamed directly in from a provincial student union sometime around the late 80s or early 90s. It sounds bloody great in small doses, with Rachel Davies’ haunting vocal threaded through a cascading, reverb-heavy wash of guitars and electronic effects played by herself, Daniel Copeman and Thomas Fisher.

In a full album’s sitting, though, it does begin to fog the senses without the delicacy or humour of close analogues like My Bloody Valentine or Mogwai. Yet this is a worthy follow-up to 2011’s Violet Cries, with fraught, sinister ballads like ‘Yellow Moon’ and ‘Putting Down the Pray’, and the harrowing, furrow-browed closer ‘Smashed to Pieces in the Still of the Night’ setting the most satisfying tone.

Esben and the Witch play the Art School, Glasgow, Fri 8 Feb.

Esben and the Witch - Deathwaltz

Esben and the Witch - "Despair" (Official Music Video)

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