Personnel: T.W. Walsh (drums).
Offering more of their trademark haunting alternative-dance fare, the Casket Girls' third album, the fittingly titled The Night Machines, continues to toughen the industrial textures of their melodic, charcoal-shaded electro-pop. The trio of Ryan Graveface and sisters Elsa and Phaedra Greene are joined again here by the multi-faceted T.W. Walsh (Pedro the Lion) as guest drummer, and by Andy LeMaster (Now It's Overhead) in the studio. Always singing in lockstep, the sisters drift above their more severe accompaniment on a wave of relaxed melodies like a dystopic Bananarama. Questioning the existence of absolute truths, "Walk the Water" dwells in a distress signal-beset underground world. Also emitting darker hues, "Tears of a Clown" is a far cry from the Smokey Robinson tune, or the Iron Maiden one, for that matter. Marked by feedback-like tones and throbbing electronic bass, the song earns its confrontational disposition, taking American society to task with lyrics like "If it wasn't for making money/We'd be making love not war." A classic girl-group tribute but for a heaviness delivered via ghostly and buzzing electronics, "Sixteen Forever" realizes "only the dead stay sixteen forever." Musically lighter moments include the airier "Beyond a Shadow," the synth poppy "Nightlife," and the almost incongruously bright "Mermaid Cottage" ("The truth of the matter is that truth will always shatter dreams"). The closing track, "Night Machines," brings together the sweeter and more threatening timbres of the album for a dreamy, pulsing meditation that fades out to end the album -- with the distinct impression that it continues on in another layer of the earth or atmosphere. ~ Marcy Donelson