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Pain Is Beauty

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iTunes Review

Despite the high school art-class album title, Chelsea Wolfe’s fourth album is a sophisticated song cycle that stretches her music into orchestral zones where the grandeur isn’t just necessary for her to get her point across. It's what makes the album such unlikely fun—especially coming from an artist who’s spent much time exploring things acoustically. Electronics become her. Not since the days of Nico or Nina Hagen have songs such as “Feral Love” sounded so naturally fluid. “Kings” takes this gothic warrior into rhythms that trip upon themselves and chord shifts that hit on a guttural level. Harmonies throughout are constructed for maximum minor-key reflection, and if one submits to Wolfe’s imagination, a peculiar sense takes hold. A giddier moment such as “The Warden” is disco-lite by comparison—but even someone composing within the dark arts needs to let off steam. “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” imagines what a world where bands such as Swans would be as popular as The Beatles. 

Customer Reviews

Extraordinary music

I pre-ordered Pain Is Beauty after hearing the eight minute long song The Waves Have Come streamed on SoundCloud. Such a remarkable song, I didn't care if the rest of the album was meh.

Well, it's not. This is major work: glorious, emotionally complex, beautiful and chilling and breath-taking music. Thank you, Ms. Wolfe.

Extraordinary, one of the year's best

This is an extraordinary album. Chelsea Wolfe's first three albums only hinted at the the total mastery of her craft on display here, and by all rights, "Pain is Beauty" should herald her ascent to greater acclaim and a broader audience. The goth-drenched guitar dynamics of her earlier masterwork, 2011's "Apokalypsis," are at once more dense and nuanced here, with signs of light shining through the darkness. From the seductive analog electronic pulse of "The Warden" to the epic sorrow of "The Waves Have Come" -- a tale told from the perspective of a man widowed by a tsunami -- the songs range from the extremely personal to the universal. Holding it all together is her gorgeous voice, by turns whispering and wailing. Chelsea Wolfe is the real deal, and this album is another major step forward in her stunning career. A great entry point for new fans, as well. One of the year's best albums.

Exquisite Haunting Beauty

Wow! How has this amazing lady been kept under the radar for so long!?! I haven't been this excited about music since I saw The Dead Can Dance at Wolf Trap a few years ago. She's a lovely combination of Goldfrapp, Kraftwerk and Cocteau Twins, taking me back to my glorious youth as an Underground junky slumming Melrose in Los Angeles back in the late 80s. I seriously thought Robin Guthrie was playing on "House of Metal"! Ms Chelsea has merged Dreampop, Electric Synthpop and throws in delicious Industrial-Goth(pop) to keep you guessing. Simply sublime!


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Crafting "doom-drenched electric folk," Los Angeles' Chelsea Wolfe brings a foreboding feel to songs as disparate as "You Are My Sunshine" and album tracks by Norwegian black metal icon Burzum. Wolfe grew up in Northern California with a father who had a country band and his own home studio, so she was immersed in music at an early age and began recording herself at age nine; by the time she was in fourth grade, she knew she wanted to be a singer. However, it wasn't until 2009, when she returned...
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Pain Is Beauty, Chelsea Wolfe
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