Photo by M.J. Bernier
The title for Bay Area quartet King Woman's four-song debut EP, Doubt, is as literal as it gets. Vocalist Kristina Esfandiari wrote its lush, dark hymns during a serious crisis of faith; as the record grew and strengthened, so did her resolve to wash her hands of the oppressive Christian environment in which she had been raised. It's sobering to think of the personal sorrows and struggles that informed its creation, but the final result is so spellbinding that one can only hope that it was all worth it.
Doubt is rich with gorgeously layered drones and Colin Gallagher's languid doom riffs, sworn to turgid tempos from bassist Sky Madden and drummer Joey Raygoza, and shot through with heavy doses of shoegaze (it's worth nothing that Esfandiari's previous musical incarnation was as the vocalist for meddlesome loud-soft-loud purveyors Whirr, and still moonlights in downer duo Miserable). Her voice—oh! that voice—is the centerpiece, swathed as it is in warm storms of distortion and delay. Esfandiari croons and mourns like PJ Harvey covering Jex Thoth (or perhaps the other way 'round). That husky, earthy contralto sways and soars through these murder-of-faith ballads, drawing eyes to the stars whilst its accompaniment points towards thickets hiding woodland graves. Much like Dorthia Cottrell's new solo effort, Doubt is beautiful, and unnerving, and utterly essential listening.
Listen to our premiere of "Burn" right here—you can thank me later.
The Flenser will release Doubt on vinyl and digital formats on 2/17.
Kim Kelly is wistfully dreaming of a Neurosis/King Woman collaboration on Twitter.