You’d expect an album titled Everyday Examples of Humans Facing Straight into the Blow to feature intense beats, athletic melodies, bombastic, full arrangements or a tense urgency in tone. Not so: On Khaela Maricich’s latest release, listeners aren’t assaulted with material. Maricich disguises Everyday Examples with shy, almost fragile, vocals and earthy acoustic accompaniment, but the album is really a challenge. She confronts her audience with her earliest, most fundamental songs, then waits on her side of the dare to see how they’ll react.
Everyday Examples collects music written several years ago, right after Maricich learned to play suitably delicate guitar; she recorded the album in her bedroom with just a four-track and no guest artists. While it’s sonically dissimilar to the lo-fi electronic propulsion found on 2003’s The Concussive Caress, her Everyday Examples possesses the same versatility of tone. Her lyrics revolve around introspection, whimsy, intimacy and sadness. Her matter-of-fact yet gossamer-thin vocals underscore understatement, but she’s not afraid to get upbeat on the cheerful “Surf Song.” Maricich deepens her voice to the point of darkness on “Walk In” and adopts a lighthearted, free persona on “Milkmaid.”
While this release is a few evolutionary stages behind the more heavily produced work she did with the Microphones or on The Concussive Caress, Maricich’s poetry stands out as an individual strength as well as a perfect complement to her endearing DIY musical style. On “Did You Drive,” she asks with pixieish pathos, “Did your blood run through you like orange juice? Did your clothes swirl around you like a cloud?”
Maricich’s appeal lies in her songwriting ability, both lyrical and musical, as well as her ability to combine those elements to make her songs sound organically in tandem, as if her words and their musical accompaniment were fraternal twins. Because her music and lyrics seem to be linked so intrinsically, they radiate an otherworldliness that draws listeners into her dreamy, emotional ruminations. When Maricich takes over, listeners hear her music on her terms alone. She confronts them with her easy, pure-of-heart aesthetic, but once they listen, she takes over with a blend of meditative ostinati, intriguing rhymes and her honest, angelic vocals. What could come off as monotonous or amateurish sounds charming and real — elegant, not undeveloped.
Everyday Examples of Humans Facing Straight into the Blow isn’t just a lo-fi lover’s dream — it provides an enchanting introduction to Maricich’s work. Revealing her origins as a bedroom chanteuse, Maricich is a quiet conqueror who set her sights on listeners’ psyches even then.