I've been in the mood for non-metal lately. After listening to Soreption last week, the awful melodic death/thrash metal band The Sorrow started playing. I got a song of their's from one of those samplers that come with magazines and certain labels send you when you order their stuff. I had last.fm open and I was thinking to myself "who the fuck actually listens to this?" When I clicked the artist name to see all the listeners and comments it gave me a list of all the bands with the name Sorrow, and I came across this little folk rock/pop gem.
Sorrow is technically a duet composed of Rose McDowall, a Scottish pop singer, and some guy named Robert Lee. Apparently McDowall always had some minor obsession with gothic fantasy as it shows clearly in her photos and especially in Sorrow's music. Under The Yew Possessed features folksy guitars, melancholic lyrics, and a psychedelic-gothic vibe. Opener "Die" paints a pretty good picture of what the album is about. You can hear the melancholy in the music, but it still has some of Rose McDowall's previous bubblegum pop sound to it. The contrast is great, especially as her ethereal voice hits another octave on the last repeat of "die," making what should be an uplifting pop tune seem rather negative at heart.
Naturally the music is centered around McDowall's vocal delivery. Under The Yew Possessed is swooning bleakness but it's delivered in an almost whimsical, dreamlike state. It really makes you feel like you're in some overly dramatic nineteenth century horror/romance novel set in the forests of eastern Europe. As lame as it sounds at least it has atmosphere going for it, and it's a pretty strong atmosphere to boot. Songs like "Songbird" and the very gothic "Darkness" are absolutely enchanting, with stunning vocal melodies and that aforementioned contrasting sound between the melancholic lyrics and uplifting instrumentation. Interlude "Dew Of The Sea" and "Emptyness" both feature spoken word vocals, which actually work in the context of the album.
The neo-folk sound on Under The Yew Possessed is pretty apparent too with all the strumming, light acoustic guitar. The drumming is minimalistic and the bass often compliments or harmonizes with the vocal melodies, which is exactly what is supposed to happen in good pop music. My only real complaint is that the album ends on a downer, with "Loki and Evil," followed by three tracks of silence and an untitled ambient outro, but it still fits the atmosphere of the album. "Forgive Me" is also a bit less lyrically inspired, but I guess the album is still pop and it needs some sort of blatancy.
8.5 out of 10
2. Forgive Me
4. Dew of the Sea
6. Ice and I
7. Ruby Tears
9. Loki and Evil