Fair enough. I'll admit, it's not exactly "Gin" (which grabs you by the balls and shakes you around violently from the very start).
I think that what compels me to listen to "The Ichthyologist" more than you is that I loved "Metridium Fields" so much that, I was extremely pumped its release months before it came out - I pre-ordered it so soon after the announcement was made that I got the 22nd numbered copy out of 1,000 that were pressed - and as soon as I got my hands on it, I dissected all the lyrics to the songs and the meanings behind the titles and everything immediately.
For example, did you know that every genus and species in the song titles has a direct relationship with the subject of each song? Sutterville was a real place, and the story of what happened there (a cholera epidemic that killed hundreds of people - the bodies were buried in mass graves) is told in the song. So was Mormon Island - it's an old gold-mining town that was flooded by the Folsom Dam project. Dead Man Slough is also a real place - I don't know if there are bodies in it, but the story told in the song is awesomely grim even if it is fictional (which I assume it is). The song Blue Linckia uses the metaphor of the subject starfish (which is huge, by the way - like 10" to 12" across) growing back its limbs to convey what the character in the story is saying, "If you were to sever my arm / I would grow one more / As I regenerate I'll still have another four"
- in other words, hurt me if you want - I'll bounce back - fuck you very much (nice!).
Once I found out what all these songs were about, similarly to what happened with you and "Gin", my interest in the album went up exponentially. I was hooked, and now more than ever - after literally hundreds of listens, I just know the songs so well that I live them out every time I play the album. There is some really good stuff on this album, but maybe you have to really want to look hard enough to find it all - or maybe it's just a matter of taste. I just thought that anybody who loved Metridium Fields would love this even more, because I have to say, the songwriting is even better here than on Fields. No, seriously - it really is.
Here are some of the hidden (?) gems that compel me to listen - and keep listening:
- the last ninety seconds of the song just KILL (distortion, much?) - and check out the high note from Jackie at the end!
Dead Man Slough
- banjo, extremely dark lyrics "The letters he wrote you / Were left in plain view / I recited them aloud as I was running him through"
- trumpets, Karyn Crisis screaming, rage, people getting eaten by sharks...hello!?!
- 4:45 through to the end...the excellent juxtaposition of Anneke van Giersbergen's pretty vocals against Aaron's angst-filled bellows - VERY nice!
- from 4:00 to the end, with the trumpets and keyboards that come in at around 5:30 - this is probably the highlight of the entire album for me...I fucking DEFY you to not bang your head during this part! Seriously. Try it. You can't do it.
There's just so much to love when you dig into this album - but to each his own, I guess.