Though oft saddled with the "alt-country" tag, of late, Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter have moved into slightly heavier and darker territories. Marble Son (2011), their self-produced fourth album, exemplifies a band at their creative pinnacle-heavier and more complex than previous records; the music resonates among the parallel worlds of the avant-garde and the timeless. Sykes and her bandmates are a group of musicians whose music resonates, against all standards of modern musical genrefication, in the parallel worlds of the avant-garde and the timeless.
Sykes’ voice, the sometimes-mystical leanings of her songs, and the band’s incomparable feel all lead to what the New York Times has described as “spellbound music, rapt in fatalism and sorrow.” Perhaps it’s this thematic darkness that has lately drawn attention to Jesse and her music from a decidedly heavier crowd than in the past. The record is an extension of their previous work, influenced in part by an association with the art-metal movement centered on Los Angeles label, Southern Lord. This "unlikely" musical friendship between Sykes and Co, and influential underground bands SunnO))) and Boris was immortalized on the 2006 album Altar, from which the song "Sinking Belle" (a Sykes/Boris/SUNNO))) co-write) has become an underground classic among metal fans.
Their musical kinship is audible in Marble Son - an utterly unique, yet subtle genre crossover. It is a journey - a gutsy romp laced with moments of shimmering, retro beauty, underpinned by pastoral images of Sykes' interior world unfolding. But that's not to say that there aren't moments of hushed acoustic wonder amongst the 11 tracks. "Be It Me, Or Be It None" is a glorious four minutes of hazy, Tim Buckley-esque folk. While album closer "Wooden Roses" is an ethereal meditation on finding love only too late - guitars sparkle, strings stir, and Sykes' voice swells and creaks beautifully right up until the final second. Marble Son is the sound of a band evolving personally and sonically - urgently expanding to mirror the chaos of modern culture, while not forgetting the seemingly hushed beauty of the past. The result is more relevant than ever and as Jesse puts it "we have never been closer to sounding like the sweet hereafter than with what we have created here."