A lot has been made of the darkness in Obsidian, the new album from Baths (aka Will Wiesenfeld). From the get-go, the contrast with Baths’ debut album, Cerulean, is clear, down to the albums’ names and their corresponding covers. Obsidian represents a shift in direction for the gregariously pop-inspired Wiesenfeld.
With his 2010 debut as Baths, Wiesenfeld produced an album in two months from his parents’ Southern California home that was hugely blissed-out in its danceability; unlike most artists slapped with the “bedroom artist” label, Wiesenfeld and his glitchy beats, pop-inflected choruses, and resplendent arrangements were unabashedly forceful and never dispassionate. Yet his past projects — from ambient solo trek Geotic to the fleshed-out, full-band endeavor Post-Foetus — lyrically explored the heavy burden of having big dreams and Wiesenfeld’s early struggles with his sexuality.
So, in many ways, the raw and untethered darkness of Obsidian is not new territory for Wiesenfeld. While lyrically the album harks back to his pre-Baths projects, Obsidian stretches his musical chops to reach those same depths without muting its pop elements. Like its predecessor, the album brims with energy, but it also weaves in delicate piano, heavenly choirs, and richer percussion along with stark lyrics. That Weisenfeld has successfully captured more nuanced feelings along the scale from bliss to despair is a testament to his growth over the last two years, as well as his versatility. Obsidian is a huge achievement; as an artist, Wiesenfeld contains multitudes. (Anticon)