This album's full title - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You - suggests soul-baring from someone bruised but coming out swinging: "Fat-fingered bullies were no match for me ... you'll have to deal with me," she sneers on the furiously jagged pop of Man with brittle guitar by M. Ward.
There's gentleness on Calling Cards, but nerve ends are raw, as on Local Girl, with its broadly inclusive "all of you lie about something". And on the musically disconcerting Where Did I Leave That Fire, Case doesn't spare herself, but sometimes projects her sensibilities too much on to others.
On the quiet Nearly Midnight, Honolulu, Case witnesses a distraught mother yelling at her crying kid and concludes the woman didn't love her child. That's cheap, judgmental and unworthy. Case lost her beloved grandmother and parents recently - but this isn't album-as-therapy rather a cathartic vortex pulling you into her emotional world.
Verdict: An uncomfortable but gripping ghost train of emotions
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- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz