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A Thousand Shark's Teeth (Bonus Track Version)

My Brightest Diamond

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Album Review

It's not surprising that My Brightest Diamond's second album was originally intended to be a string quartet-based work, or that it was six years in the making. A Thousand Shark's Teeth is much more orchestrated, polished, and ambitious than Bring Me the Workhorse, and draws even more from Shara Worden's classical training (as well as the work of Maurice Ravel, Tricky, Tom Waits, and painter Anselm Kiefer). The album's elegant instrumentation and arrangements are nothing if not impressive, whether they're relatively simple, as on "If I Were Queen," which concentrates on Worden's immaculate soprano and pizzicato strings, or lavish, as on "Inside a Boy," where chilly strings and keyboards rise to meet Worden's ice princess vocals. However, A Thousand Shark's Teeth sacrifices some of the playfulness and energy that made Bring Me the Workhorse so compelling, and at times Worden's ambitions come close to getting the better of her. "Apples"' plinking percussion — which owes as much to Evelyn Glennie as it does to Tom Waits — makes day-to-day chores like folding laundry sound like performance art, and as eerily lovely as "Black & Coustaud" is, its frosty cabaret whimsy is so theatrical that it vaguely resembles an avant-garde show tune. Strangely, despite the album's elaborate scope, at times A Thousand Shark's Teeth is too subtle to make a strong initial impression. However, when the album does connect — usually when the arrangements and melodies are more direct — the results are stunning. "From the Top of the World" warms up the mostly frosty sonics and resembles a distant, darker cousin of '60s symphonic pop, a feeling echoed by "To Pluto's Moon," which channels John Barry and Portishead into a goth spy theme. "Bass Player"'s smoky sensuality makes it another standout, while "The Diamond" and "Ice & the Storm" are immediately accessible without compromising the album's lofty themes and sounds. Big ambition means the potential for an equally big failure, and while that's not the case on A Thousand Shark's Teeth, the album is sometimes too over-thought for its own good. Arguably, it's more interesting for Worden to bring some of her high art background to a pop context, as she did on Bring Me the Workhorse, than vice versa. As it stands, A Thousand Shark's Teeth is beautiful, more than a little insular, and ultimately intriguing for anyone willing to listen closely.

Biography

Formed: New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Mixing elements of opera, cabaret, chamber music, and rock, My Brightest Diamond was the project of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden. The daughter of a National Accordion Championship-winning father and a mother who was an organist for their Pentecostal church, Worden grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan, listening to gospel, jazz, and classical music and performing in the church choir. She studied opera at the University of North Texas' music program, and after graduation, moved to...
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A Thousand Shark's Teeth (Bonus Track Version), My Brightest Diamond
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