I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses
Review by Rosie Long Decter
After winning the 2020 Polaris Prize with God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It, Montreal’s Backxwash returns with a suitably heavy follow-up record. I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses doubles down on the artist’s signature blend of hip hop and metal in order to explore pain and plumb the depths of depression and oppression. It’s an immense album—furious, vulnerable, and deeply impactful.
I Lie Here Buried opens with a robotic voice informing us that “the purpose of pain is to get our attention that something is wrong.” The voice loops and delays, telling us over and over again that pain can be a good thing, before it’s abruptly cut short. The detached medical justification of pain is overtaken by a brutal shriek, emphasizing the discrepancy between an analysis of suffering and its visceral manifestations. “My mind’s stuck in a torture chamber/ it’s locked and dangered,” Backxwash raps on the second track, “Wail of the Banshee.”
Pain, here, is also political. “I see colonies and division/ robbing me of my diction,” Backxwash raps in the title track. On the choruses, Ada Rook lets out an otherworldly cry: “release me, abomination!” “In Thy Holy Name” features a homophobic and transphobic sermon with lines like “you’re walking like a girl/ you need deliverance.” The voice is pitched down to sound demonic, a reminder that evil emerges from ideologies.
Backxwash’s rapping is simultaneously deft and hard-hitting. The instrumentals are menacing creations, built around looped screams and industrial squelches. They give the sense of being sucked into an underworld, while Backxwash grapples with the desire to die. “When the time does come/ I really hope that my death not in vain or a violent one,” she raps on “In Thy Holy Name.”
I Lie Here Buried depicts a harrowing process of facing demons; the skittering hats and walloping snare in “Burn to Ash” feels cathartic, if not healing. Pain is, Backxwash asserts, an indication that something must be exorcised.