By Scott Pollack
I almost wet my undies when I opened my mailbox to find Emily Haines’ solo album, Knives Don’t Have Your Back. Ever since I saw her shimmy behind the keyboard with her synth-pop foursome Metric and sway and croon with fellow band members in the Canadian super group Broken Social Scene, I’ve been infatuated.
After having worked on the album on and off for the past four years and enlisting the help of Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene), Jimmy Shaw (Metric), and Scott Minor (Sparklehorse), I assumed Haines’ record would be flawless. However, what I discovered was that Emily stepped out of the spotlight from her bands to reveal her unexpected darkness.
With simple piano chord progressions littered with light string and horn arrangements, Haines orchestrates beautiful ballads of sadness and reality, not to be confused with the stereotypical piano songstresses of our generation. Whereas Fiona and Tori would intricately pound out their frustration, Emily uses her hauntingly hushed voice to exhibit her emotional state. With topics ranging from her deceased father to her depressed friends, this album is a real downer. Standout track “Our Hell” mixes ambient beats and a trudging melody, with layered vocals to generate an ambiguous message. The meaning can be perceived as finding solace in the company of the miserable.
While Metric can camouflage her despair with fun beats, Knives provides an authentic view into the soul of Ms. Haines. Cheer up Emily, at least you’ve mastered the art of a successful solo career.