album reviews

Death Vessel
Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us
Sub Pop (2008)

There's nothing overtly deathly about the sound of Joel Thibodeau's music: His girlish, airy voice and the delicate plucking of his acoustic guitar give a sweet innocence to his psych-folk songs. Even so, it's a pretty bold statement to give this album a name ("Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us") that implies there is no limit to his preciousness; but unlike the twee-pop bands of the 1990s, his sweetness is more angelic breathiness than saccharine goo. Adding to the childlike sound of his songs are his oblique lyrics: Album standout "Jitterakadie" seems to be about a fantasy world, while the alliteration and fast-flying lyrics on "Obadiah in Oblivion" obliterate any chance of determining his meaning.

Even the songs that read darkly, such as "Block My Eye," with its references to "a moth-eaten mood" and being "tapped out of all desire," seem carefree with Thibodeau's lilting vocals and sprightly instrumental gait. He may not live up to the darkness implied by his chosen band name, Death Vessel, but his blithe falsetto is such a match for his elegantly innocent songs that it's easy to forgive that disconnect.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 12 September 2008
.: Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us on