Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Pitchfork review

Neko Case is a force of nature. Her voice can knock you over-- it's one of the strongest in any genre. She has immense control and surprising physical and stylistic range, able to jump from cowgirl honkytonk to pop muse to Americana banshee with ease and grace. However, on her fifth studio album, Middle Cyclone, she literally becomes a force of nature: Case sings opener "This Tornado Loves You" from the point of view of an actual tornado, tearing up trailer parks and cutting a 65-mile swath in search for its beloved: "I carved your name across three counties," she sings defiantly as the guitars whip around her and the snare patters frantically, suggesting destruction can be a demonstration of love. Later she's a cyclone, an elephant, a killer whale, a dove, a magpie, and possibly a mollusk. "I'm an animal," she sings on "I'm an Animal". "You're an animal, too."

Middle Cyclone is another strong entry in her strange catalog, a culmination of some of the lyrical and musical concerns she's been exploring since Blacklisted, when she started receiving full songwriting credit. That 2002 album marked a turning point for Case as she abandoned the straightforward country-soul of 2000's Furnace Room Lullaby for a spookier sound that favors odd song structures and odder imagery about serial killers, downed planes, and automobile accidents. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood developed those ideas and Middle Cyclone further refines them. It plays almost like a culmination of her career this decade, the final installment of a trilogy about the weird American wilderness of her mind.

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