Inspired by an isolated winter spent in the Yukon,Nervous is an album born of catharsis, minor chords, and the supernatural — the latter being a byproduct of intense hyperacusis lead singer/songwriter Colin Huebert battled during his stay and residence in a house that he said, “felt utterly haunted.”
It’s through fleeting notions of the ethereal, and Huebert’s own meditative experiences prior to recording, that Siskiyou (pronounced sis-ki-you) have been able to create songs that soar and dive through different verses; songs that induce quiet reflection and reverent exclamation.
Opening track, “Deserter,” sets the wistful tone of the album. From its dramatic and haunting choral introduction (courtesy of the St James Music Academy Senior Choir) to the vacillating whispers and cries from Huebert, it stands as one of the strongest tracks on the album. It paves the way for proceeding songs, “Bank Accounts and Dollar Bills (Give Peace a Chance)” and “Wasted Genius,” which pull art-rock inspiration from bands like Arcade Fire and Paul Banks.
“Violent Motion Pictures” begins much like Interpol’s “Untitled.” It employs delicate sonic arrangements and surrealist melodies that carry the listener away, while the whispering vocals throughout “Jesus in the ‘70s” invoke a film noir tone of mystery and intrigue. There is a refreshing quality to the arrangements in both these songs that piques tired interest and reignites long lost imagination.
Unfortunately for me, this is where Nervous peaks and loses its palatability. The span from “Deserter” to “Jesus in the 70’s” feels intimate, mysterious, and seductive, while the concluding tracks lack something. The change of pace and the optimistic vibe brought on by folkier tracks like “Oval Window” and “Imbecile Thoughts” (though strong songs in their own right) feel too lively and out of place on an album that was previously cool and melancholic. “Nervous” and “Babylonian Proclivities” fall short of the bar set by their predecessors and as such, unjustly fade into background noise quite easily.
There is no denying the beautiful craftsmanship of the album, produced by Huebert himself with the assistance of John Raham (Frazey Ford, The Be Good Tanyas) and Leon Taney (Owen Pallett, Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains). Each track is its own diamond in the rough, driven by Huebert’s endearing vocal cadences, lyricism, and the finesse of his fellow musicians. Executed any other way, it would have been easy to saturate this record with too many ideas and lose the delicate musical intricacies that make Siskiyou so unique. The fine line walked here is a testament to the talented individuals who participated in the creation of Nervous.