Oh Perilous World
Oh Perilous World, chamber-rock trio Rasputina’s sixth full-length album, is a study in what happens when blind ambition meets undeniable talent in a head-to-head death match. Talent usually wins out, but not without its causalities.
In this case, Rasputina has created an album filled with gorgeous melodies and string arrangements that are undoubtedly impressive to both casual listeners and the aficionados. However, with lyrics culled from newspaper clippings and history books, Oh Perilous World would be much easier to appreciate if it was an instrumental. Melora Creager, Rasputina’s founding multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, comes off as unforgivably pedantic, particularly in the opening track “1816, the Year Without a Summer.” Yes, it’s interesting to know that Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein may have been indirectly influenced by crazy meteorological events of the day, but not every great story makes a great song - a distinction that seems to have passed by Creager in a flurry of mandolins and guitar strings. Her lyrics sound jumbled and forced, and while I’m willing to give a bit of leeway to someone writing songs from Osama Bin-Laden speeches, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
There’s no denying the extraordinary level of talent in Rasputina; after all, any band that’s toured with Throwing Muses, Nirvana and The Pixies can’t be all bad. It’s just that their talent is out of focus on Oh Perilous World, over-reaching and misguided. Creager supposedly decided to write from newspaper accounts because she found them more bizarre than anything she could come with on her own. That may be true, but there’s a reason we read newspapers, not sing them.