Search The Line of Best Fit
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Locate S, 1 offers the sonic equivalent of a day’s worth of public radio programming on Wicked Jaw

"Wicked Jaw"

Release date: 28 July 2023
Locate S1 - Wicked Jaw cover
27 July 2023, 09:00 Written by Connor Shelton

There’s a sense of defiance which colours Christina Schneider’s latest release as Locate S, 1.

Not content to be pigeonholed as a muse, the artist has taken full control on Wicked Jaw, a fact which is evidenced not only by her spot in the producer’s chair but also in the sprawling canvass of music styles the album takes on. From soothing bossa nova to sinewy post-punk to dreamy avant-pop, the singer-songwriter refuses to sit still with any one genre, thus ensuring the listener is never left bored as they sift through this strange cornucopia of sounds. It’s an approach that suggests pastiche, but in practice avoids treading water. Consider the adrenaline-fueled anxiety of “Have You Got It Yet?” a song chronicling the fallout of Covid-19 (“One black plague / and the whole game’s done”) to the sound of the Cure circa 1979 but if Mark Knopfler was on guitar. It’s a haphazard blend of styles that few would consider, yet Schneider mixes them together with manic glee, in essence tapping into the malleable spirit that powered progressive rock.

In a similar fashion to the prog-rock acts of yore, the lyrics on Wicked Jaw skew toward the abstract, using words as watercolors on tracks like the idiosyncratic “Daffodil.” While this approach can certainly alienate anglophiles who crave clarity in their art, it allows Schneider to mask the pain which Wicked Jaw attempts to excavate. It’s a clever means by which the artist can exorcize her personal demons while still maintaining some privacy, best evidenced by album opener “You Were Right About One Thing” which offers a message of empathy towards individuals trapped in cycles of abuse.

Elsewhere on Wicked Jaw, Schneider tackles broader issues such as police brutality on “Blue Meaniez” and the danger of nostalgia in “Back to Disnee.” The latter track is one whose exact meaning is open to interpretation, but it’s clear that there’s more to the song than the relaxed Samba stylings will have you believe considering lines like “Back to the hiding places that were never there.” These ideas of personal and structural abuse all come to a head on the Phil Spector-inspired title track. Against a backdrop of baseball organs and the iconic “Be My Baby” drum pattern, the song sees Schneider assert herself in the face of some undisclosed aggression, manifesting the type of rage that lingers below the surface for those who aren’t privileged straight white men.

Though Schneider’s most recent studio effort doesn’t offer the deepest lyrical analyses on the nature of trauma, Wicked Jaw succeeds thanks to its deft balance of grace and anger. So few artists can successfully weave such frenetic and jaded songs with the sublime melodies on display throughout the concise 40-minute runtime, yet Schneider pulls it off with ease. The result is an album which will leave the listener combing through every track as they crave for more.

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