The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You
“Hey, little girl, would you like to be the king’s pet or the king? I’d choose odorless and invisible, but otherwise, I would choose the king.” Straight from the start of Neko Case’s sixth album, the lyrics show off this chanteuse’s paradoxical nature. On the one hand, she has had to deal with a crippling bout of depression recently, no doubt wanting to disappear. On the other, she is able to channel that misery into a strong, remarkable record.
When the delicate moments arrive, they are hauntingly beautiful. “Nearly Midnight, Honohulu” and “Afraid” are nearly a cappella, making lyrics like “get the fuck away from me” all the more intense. These songs complement each other well as the former describes a mother not loving her child while the latter captures loneliness.
On the other hand, Case can also be quite confident. Revealing her punk roots on “Man,” she confidently declares, “I’m a man/You’ll have to deal with me.” But perhaps the best example of Case’s balance is the closing track, “Ragtime.” Though fairly slow, it builds from a delicate track to layered horns and vocals. “I’ll reveal myself invincible soon,” she states, and you can’t help but believe her.
Neko Case is one tough, but vulnerable woman still making her own gloriously individual music, and this is worth checking out. I would personally recommend the deluxe version of the album, if only for the cheeky “Yon Ferrets Return,” featuring Case’s New Pornographers bandmate Carl Newman.