It is only with the closing track here that you’d know that HTK is a trained opera singer, the rest of the time she is belting out garage rock like No Room for Jesus or immersing herself in good old country music as on her straight-ahead take on Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You. Whatever she does, she does with conviction, never shying away from raw emotion; whether it’s the Breeder’s like Teratoma or the feral rock and roll of Lot’s Wife, she doesn’t mind shredding her vocal chords for the cause.
The gentle and poignant Melancolia I shows a different side, this one controlled and reflective with hushed vocals that are sweet and innocent sounding. Large Hall Small Decay announces her like a redneck Neko Case, a voice that could do anything, doing just what it wants. Dopesick is the standout, love as addiction, her voice startling and soothing like a velvet cloak being thrown over barbed wire. She inhabits every word, and the guitar solo is barely somnambulant, the all-consuming sickness of love consuming and tainting everything, as the song ends the guitars start to squeal and the emotion escapes into her voice, the howl of pain.
The record is named for Robert Schumann who was diagnosed with ‘psychotic melancholia’ and over bass notes HTK gives her formal opera training a workout – it’s a strange and disconcerting end to the record as though it is a different person.