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Album Review: Crywolf “Skeletons”

Typing away, I’m doing my homework in bed like always, the regular routine. My headphones are buried in my ears, because music is the only way I can truly focus on what I’m doing. By now my Spotify playlist has been exhausted of all its songs, and it begins suggesting random songs; and I stop typing as soon as I hear the airy notes of a soft male voice. It is distant and a guitar is played acoustically in the back gently, accompanying his voice. There’s a cold timid desperation that hits me so strongly as he sings out the words “I’m scared you’ll leave me in the ground.”  I fall apart at the lyric– its simplicity and its weight.

The title of the song that caused such a reaction was in fact called “Weight” on the Skeletons EP released in 2017 by the chillstep singer Crywolf.  For the next hour, I listen to the song on repeat, digesting its words, the chorus, the melody, every change in note and how every little piece of the song adds to its meaning. I share it with my boyfriend and for the next two hours we pick apart its lyrics over facetime and how we relate to it; it suddenly becomes our song, as we both love Crywolf.

I had heard of him long ago before hearing Weight, but I was only interested in a few of his songs at the time. Now I dig myself into a deep hole, wanting to understand every word that comes out of his mouth.

Crywolf posted the Skeletons Ep on Youtube March 13, 2017, and with it he included his artist statement on the EP. This led me to listen to all of the songs; and all together, they made sense and captured exactly what he has described in his statement:  Crywolf described the first time he “saw a real human skeleton” and his reaction to seeing it. He explains the “peculiar sadness and shock” that he felt upon seeing it and how it was not at the sight of the bones, but rather the thought of the experiences that the skeleton once went through when there was skin upon it, when it was breathing. “An entire world had once rested in that skull.  How much love, pain, happiness and grief had that frame supported”; this part to me is lovely, as we neglect to think about the life that happened and was existent when we look upon the remains of what was sentient. He takes the time to think about this, about these remains and what was. From that came beautiful sounds and melodies capturing that entire theme.

Continuing his artist statement, Crywolf breaks down that artists will write about “presence” or “absence” and adds in the imagery to capture that lyrics and music is used to “run your finger around the shape left by something lost,”. His EP is about the “negative space”, to simplify, it is about the emotions and the memories of what existed, not about the physical skeleton. The thing missing from the skeleton is the main importance of the songs, what had it once gone through and what is left now. Crywolf recognizes this as “A harsh reminder of what once was; the unchangeable breach in the order of things.”  As it is life and death, we live and then die but there was once something there.

I go on about the artist statement, as it completely altered the meaning of the EP and all the songs, in comparison to when I listened to it before familiarizing myself with the ‘why’ of it. Each song now clearly goes back to the statement and its importance resonates completely within each one, whether the songs are listened to in order, out of order, all together, or separately. He adds his personal input about how these songs are so “excruciatingly vulnerable” and how he feared putting them out on the world. But he exclaims that he “ rather end my life pinned down, splayed out on a dissecting table than be stored away in formaldehyde, buried with my secrets.”

Powerful, is it not? No one wants to hold the burden of secrets; although we feel that shame with some, that fear, we are all going one day, all leaving the earth; and it’s either let them out to the world or die heavy with them. Crywolf makes that clear. He ends the statement with a beautiful line that shows trust in the listeners of the world; “So here I am. Here’s the knife. Be gentle with me, please.”  Cut away his secrets, dissect him, open him up, but do it with care, because such songs are so charged with a timid vulnerability, a small panic, a tender fear. He is trusting you, the listener with it all.

You can listen to the EP here:

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