If PunkRockTheory was an interior design blog and A Grave With No Name’s new album was a room, I would be talking about Scandinavian design right now. Alexander Shields (aka A Grave With No Name) keeps things decidedly spartan and sober on “Wooden Mask”, yet there’s still a lot of warmth to be found in tracks like “Mask” and “Wedding Dress”, both of which come with an Elliott Smith kinda vibe.
Basically this is Shields’ voice, a guitar and the occasional smattering of drums and/or synths. When it’s good, it’s good. Fragile, brittle and hauntingly beautiful all at once. The short “Pirouette” wouldn’t have looked out of place during an episode of True Detective and stands in stark contrast to the distortion-laden “Storm”, which sounds like something Gravenhurst could have written.
But then you come across - let’s call ‘em - songs like “Shrine” and “Tape”, two of the biggest WTF moments I’ve experienced this year. Not sure what the idea was there, but they are not doing the album any favors. A couple of the other cuts that made it on here are okay enough, but overall I get the impression Shields was aiming for something that – for now – is still out of reach.