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Sebastian Blanck

Alibi Coast

(Rare Book Room; US: 6 Jul 2010; UK: import)

Though Sebastian Blanck was a member of Black Dice more than ten years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find any of that noisy chaos on his solo debut, Alibi Coast. Instead, Blanck offers a tender, gentle folk-pop record that puts his haunting and resonant vocals up front and on display. Much of the record deals with Blanck’s brother, who was sadly lost in a drowning accident in 2007. Blanck’s loss coats these songs with an affecting mood, and when he takes moments to address his brother directly, it is heartbreaking, but also beautiful in its tribute. “I keep my broken heart, to remind me of you,” Blanck keens on “Nothing Left to Lose”, driving home that paradox of loss: how we can’t let go, not all the way, even as we try to move on. Sonically, though, Alibi Coast is a singer-songwriter record, it sounds best when Blanck opens things up. There are soaring, orchestral swirls of sound, shuffling pastoral pop, gentle pianos, and even towering guitars toward the end of the record. Those elements create a world big enough to contain the entire range of Blanck’s vocals.  However, some of the quieter tracks, which often feature guest vocals from the likes of Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, Lavender Diamond’s Beck Stark, and others, feel a little too light to carry both the weight of his singing and the emotional heft of the album. Still, overall, Blanck manages a careful balance of elements, and a pitch-perfect delivery of some very tough emotions, on Alibi Coast.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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