PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Leonard Cohen - "You Want It Darker" (Singles Going Steady)

"You Want It Darker" is a compelling exploration into the unknown corners of the human soul.

Andrew Paschal: So sparsely arranged are the elements driving Leonard Cohen's newest release, that if you were to remove any one of them the whole delicate bouquet might collapse. As it is though, the reverent choir, House of Cards-esque baseline, and Cohen's iconic and terrifyingly deep voice combine beautifully to make "You Want It Darker" a compelling exploration into the unknown corners of the human soul. Or rather, the track serves as a preamble to such an exploration. Cohen speaks like one returning from the abyss to share his dark understandings with the uninitiated: "I struggled with some demons / They were middle class and tame / I didn't know I had permission / To murder and to maim," he recites stonily. He questions whether we really wish to know what we will find once the candle is blown out, but promises to serve as our spectral guide if we choose to look beyond the curtain of light. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Leonard Cohen is 82 years old and ready to fight both God and man. The lyrics of "You Want It Darker" make that clear as he pits human weakness against divine arrogance and questions the inescapable paradox of creation. His growl is almost venomous as he declares his own readiness to face his maker. Wisely, the accompaniment stays minimal, consisting of some bare beats, a somber organ in the distance, and a choir joining him as he invokes the Hebrew phrase hineni. An angry prayer for a troubled time. [8/10]

A. Noah Harrison: The 82-year-old Leonard Cohen has nothing to prove anymore, but glory to him for proving himself all the same. Cohen’s vocal tract has always been a dark and hollow place, and “You Want it Darker” does nothing to flush out the demons. A chorus echoes off the walls of the dungeon as his growl pierces the center. His spirit howls on. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: It's comforting to know that Leonard Cohen, well into his 80s, is still doing what he does best. I really see no lessening of the quality of this man's work -- it's almost like he has no choice as there's really no Leonard Cohen contemporaries to compare to. The dark vibe here includes a minimalist drum machine, layers of warm synths and a sympathetic chorus of vocalists all backing up the master, who's still at the top of his game. [8/10]

Paul Carr: As is the case with the best Leonard Cohen songs, the production is sparse enough to allow his haunting voice to take center stage. However, he has found a new way to frame it with the song built on a deep, groovy bass line and flickers of electronica. The genius lies in his way with words with his lyrics clearly demonstrating what a magisterial manipulator of gloom he is. Cohen sounds like he is almost taunting death itself as his weary, rumbling voice darkly reverberates through the speakers. As a whole, it illustrates Cohen’s ability to still write something so captivatingly sombre yet so unique. Darkness never sounded so good. [9/10]

Scott Zuppardo: The king of left of center talk singing is back and... surprise... still cool! Cohen's lyrics poetry in motion, or perhaps lack thereof. There isn't a click more dark then this, knightly dark like a pre-death mantra. It's guttural and spooky. [8/10]

SCORE: 8.17

And here's the Paul Kalkbrenner remix released today...

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.