“Tongues of Wild Boar” is a study in contrasts. Dark art pop singer/songwriter Hilary Woods—once a member of Britpop group JJ72—took a striking and spectral left turn on her 2018 debut Colt, trading immediacy and density to pursue a more chillingly spacious form of folk and ethereal wave. Yet on her new single “Tongues of Wild Boar,” she has a chaotic foil in Lasse Marhaug, a Norwegian producer whose ample catalog spans everything from drone and harsh noise to free improvisation. It’s primarily the noise element that comes into play here; from the opening moments, “Tongues of Wild Boar” crackles with menacing static and industrial thump, a snarling beast ready to attack. But Woods’ arrangement and voice are restrained, juxtaposing a mournful and gentle gothic dirge against raw, surging intensity. It’s a tension between melancholy and rage, between feelings of despair and the violence of a caged animal. And though Woods’ words are cryptic, they indicate something furious brewing beneath her stoic exterior: “Apply a needle in the eye of a storm that’s brewing in the sea.” Sheer menace rarely feels so serene.
From Birthmarks, out March 13 via Sacred Bones
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.