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Julie Doiron: Heartache's Frayed Edges

Julie Doiron has the kind of sweet, plain voice that most singers would be happy to wrap in gently strummed acoustic guitar and brushed snare drums. It's quiet and comfortable, and brings to mind lonely walks down cobbled streets, or a large feather bed on a rainy afternoon, or maybe a long-distance phone commercial. But Doiron has a history of undermining her charming voice. She started her musical career at age 18 in the distortion-heavy band Eric's Trip (named for a Sonic Youth song), and in the dozen years since she began to put out solo records, she's found ways to use instrumentation to explore the frayed edges of heartache and longing.

In "Consolation Prize," Doiron addresses a man, living in the aftermath of a breakup, who finds that his friends won't let him leave it behind. "People insisted on telling you what a great couple you had been / They insisted on telling you over again," she sings over a rumbling bassline. By bringing up the pain wrought from sympathy, she's effectively doing the same thing, but Doiron isn't going for a palliative here. For two short, bruising minutes, she wants listeners to live in the ache of loss.

Squalls of feedback, clattering drums and a broken alarm almost overwhelm a squirming guitar solo, making the murk even more present before Doiron shouts "Look out, look out!" and tumbles back into the song's opening verse. It's almost as though she's reminding him that it's going to get harder; it's going to be almost unbearable, and when he thinks it might be over, the pain is going to cycle back around, over and over again.

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