2014 so far has been a year for slow-burning intense flames. Sharon Van Etten’s album Are We There is just one of a clutch of albums that take their time to get going, ease you in gently, and then don’t succumb to the siren’s call of the big anthem, the floor-filler, the explosion that sets up the finale. It’s not quite as extreme as Elbow’s The Take Off and Landing of Everything, which squelches snail-like on the starting line and takes a leisurely 18 minutes over its first three tracks, but Are We There isn’t going anywhere fast. After Afraid of Nothing and Taking Chances you might be wondering if the title and cover artwork are part of some sort of ironic joke.
When Your Love is Killing Me starts up, so much the same. Except there’s a sinister darkness to the track that means you can’t relax into its gentle early pace:
Break my legs so I won’t walk to you
Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you
Burn my skin so I can’t feel you
Stab my eyes so I can’t see
You like it when I let you walk over me
You tell me that you like it
Your love is killing me
Then the relentless machine-gun drum-beat that fires away throughout the rest of the track, and Van Etten’s raw delivery: rarely has pain and hurt sounded so beautiful as each soaring “you like it”. By the end any sense of the album as leisurely stroll or light emotional dusting is long forgotten.
Watching Van Etten’s set at this year’s Primavera Sound, listening to her close a wonderful set with Your Love is Killing Me was one of those moments where you’re just left silenced by the power of music, the hold that it can have, and of wanting to freeze time, bottle up the moment and never let it fade.
Update - October 28, 2014 - an official video for Your Love is Killing Me, directed by Sean Durkin and starring Carla Juri is now available.