I know, I know, you’ve missed me. It’s been a while, but I’m back, at least for the moment. And don’t worry, I’ve got some articles in the pipeline about albums that I’m sure you’re all excited about hearing my thoughts on. However, before I get to Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, Cruel Summer, and Channel Orange, there’s someone I want to talk about. And that’s The Widest Smiling Faces. (And if you’ve been following me, you know how anxious I am to talk about GKMC and Cruel Summer)
The Widest Smiling Faces is comprised of Aviv Cohn, his imagination, and the dreams of a thousand children. His artist bio from his record label’s website reads like a Bjork song: “He was born in New York near the beach with the jellyfish where he made music with colors and on some occasions smell before moving to Brooklyn to cough.” That’s a sentence you can either love or hate, but damn if it isn’t creative and pretty.
Sonically, his music is very much in line with the baby that Bjork and Sigur Ros are going to create. He describes it as a slowed down shoegaze, which I completely see, but to me, it sounds exactly like an acoustic guitar based Sigur Ros. It has a very minimalist feel to it, with just a few layered guitars and Aviv’s voice, coming and going, in and out, weaving through the song at just the right moments to lift you up, or bring you down. On top of that it has this ethereal sound to it; the music feels so open and spacious, and calming, oh so calming. I feel like I’m laying in a meadow, surrounded by soft grass and flowers, staring up at a clear night sky, looking at the dots of stars and galaxies far above me.
I do have one critique; Aviv doesn’t have the strong voice. Maybe that’s just how he sings, but there this strange quiver and scratchiness whenever he tries to hit those higher notes, like he’s struggling. He also tends to whisper most of his lines. Of course, most of his songs take on sad subjects, and he could very well be reflecting that with his voice, and his quiet whispers really fit the music he’s playing, and when he does get loud, it really draws your attention to the emotional impact he’s trying to convey. Regardless, it can come off sounding like he’s trying to hide a weak singing voice behind the guitar.
If you couldn’t tell from my Soap&Skin and The Mountain Goats reviews, I like simple stuff. I loved The Mountain Goats earlier work, but I’m not a huge fan of the full band stuff they’re pumping out now (it’s still good, but not The Mountain Goats to me). The Widest Smiling Faces fill that gap, in small way. With only a guitar or 2 and a whispered voice, he makes simple music that’s good. He’s not for everyone, but if you can dig Sigur Ros, you can dig this guy.