You already love Emily Haines. We all already love Emily Haines. The frontwoman of Toronto’s Metric has long been the indie songstress that you fell in love with (whatever your gender/orientation), from the band that expertly balances between electronic and alternative, stadium and indie. A decade ago she released a solo record (under “Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton”), the sad, piano-driven Knives Don’t Have Your Back, plus accompanying EP dedicated to her father, poet Paul Haines, What Is Free To a Good Home? (QRO review), but since then Metric have gone into overdrive. Yet Haines’ return to The Soft Skeleton is a return to her own soft intimacy with Choir of the Mind.
There is no big electronica, no “Stadium Love”, on Choir. Rather, it is a quiet and sad Haines, up close and personal – though separation pervades the record, starting with the haunting echo opener “Planets”. Haines has a poet’s way with words and comparisons, from the apt “woman as wild horse” done well, not rote, in “Legend of the Wild Horse”, to the wry and funny “You’re the guy / Who always brings the drugs / When nobody wants drugs” on penultimate “Irish Exit”, not to mention slipping through the “Minefield of Memory”.
A slow full-length of thirteen songs at about an hour, Choir of the Mind does feel a little too full and extended, and the quiet intimacy can blend together. But it’s really just another reason to love Emily Haines.