Tiny Vipers' new album Life on Earth offers pieces of spaced acoustic finger pickings, dark melodies, and faint shadows shuffling beneath the beauty of Seattle based singer Jesy Fortino's solitary, haunting voice. The sparse, slow burn of her songs is rare in a time that increasingly emphasizes instant and forced flashiness.
In songs like "Development," whistles are turned into dark warnings, and a promise carried on a melody almost filled with hope entwines for a hesitation rich, suppressed ballad. "Slow Motion" is hardly a long song compared to the rest of the album. Yet Fortino stretches time in between each note so that the song, too, stretches on, with a sadness lingering above the melody. "Dreamer" is a dream in itself, shrouded in a fine fog, hidden, emerged in cold still pools, under a distant silver moon. "Can we learn when we can't understand?" Fortino answers in the mournful rise and fall of her voice, waltzing with this impenetrable, yet impossibly fragile atmosphere. Like white petals in the wind, dried leaves cracking above fresh piled snowflakes.
"Time Takes" tackles on a greater sense of urgency...an unanswerable question and the quick strings of music quick to capture this nonstop hopeless escape of time. The ten minute title track is a journey in itself, pretty picked melodies with a gentle calm, a floating ghost that delivers moments of wisdom in a winding landscape that recreates a wanderer in an endless world. "CM" delivers perhaps the closest thing to a pop song, light and fluttering despite its sorrowful undertones.
Life on Earth, in all, is at once fragile and strong in its insistence, its dark melodies and lonesome calls. It's beautiful in its darkness, but Fortino manages a hint of hope beneath the sorrow, and that glimpse of something more might just be what she needs to be truly converted. - Laura Yan