Neko Case: The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You (ANTI-) album review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Neko Case

The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

ANTI-

Aug 30, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Two themes rear their heads in Neko Case's songwriting: a deft touch when it comes to showing us the icky, corporeal aspects of life and a fondness for externalizing internal turmoil, whether expressing baser desires through another's thoughts or projecting them onto the natural world. On The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, these tried-and-true tendencies emergebut the album still represents a significant thematic shift for Case. The protagonists on Harder don't push themselves into the physical world; they imagine what it might be like to abandon it altogether.

Invisibility is one of Harder's most frequently broached subjects. Given the choice between assuming a position of power or becoming The Powerful's mistress on "Wild Creatures," Case chooses option C: to be invisible. She silently observes (but aches inside for) a mother abusively silencing her child on "Honolulu;" on "Night Still Comes," she's trying to shed the burden of a bodybut doing so by imploring the forest to swallow her whole, becoming an "arboreal feast." "Where Did I Leave That Fire" deals with the same matter from a more spiritual perspective, finding Case imagining what it might be likethen pleadingto leave the trappings of her body altogether, hovering above everything that can maim your spirit, trip you up, cause you to lose your way.

If Middle Cyclone was all about the awesome but unpredictable power of nature, Harder is about the fallibility of one's own self. Throughout her career, Case has positioned herself as the voice of the voiceless: women, murderers, and other folks on the fringe of society, animals, tornados. While Harder doesn't suggest giving up this fight to be heard, it encourages the listener to think about the fight in a different wayby accepting shortcomings, recognizing the narrowness of socially-constructed paths, and starting to rise above it all. (www.nekocase.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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