Casper Skulls
Knows No Kindness
Next Door Records
Toronto, ON
RIYL: Mazzy Star; Built to Spill; the space between soft and heavy

Casper Skulls have transformed dramatically since their first single in 2015. Throughout each of their releases in the past half-decade, the quartet’s brooding strain of Sonic Youth-inspired post-punk has been polished into an array of understated gems. Vocalist/guitarist Melanie Gail St-Pierre initially traded lines with her partner Neil Bednis (now focusing his efforts on playing guitar), but she sings all 10 songs on their latest album, channeling harrowing memories from a childhood growing up in Northern Ontario mining towns into crystalline, confessional art-rock.

Though Casper Skulls’ original drummer Chris Anthony gave the band a jolt of pounding propulsion, the feather-light touch of their latest recruit Aurora Bangarth suits this album perfectly. On quieter songs like “Thesis” or “Witness” (based on St. Pierre’s experiences testifying in court when she witnessed the murder of her best friend’s father), they use space as a compositional tool, borrowing a trick from Mount Eerie’s quiet echoes

The best songs on Knows No Kindness find Casper Skulls splitting the difference between their old and new approaches, such as the conclusion of “Rose of Jericho,” which rings out with an emotionally resonant guitar solo that sounds like it was played by Dough Martsch. In these moments when they mine the space between soft and heavy, Casper Skulls strike gold.

– Jesse Locke

Full Disclosure: From 2017 to 2018, Jesse Locke worked for the public relations company Hive Mind PR that currently represents Casper Skulls.