As album titles go, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, doesn’t really inspire confidence. It’s almost Fiona Apple-like length, and reads like a teenager’s Facebook update. Luckily, Neko Case managed to assuage many of my fears about her way with words, right from the opening lines of the first song: “When you catch the light, You look like your mother”.
The album begins in a rather restrained manner, but things kick into gear with the up-tempo “Man”. If you’ve unfamiliar the concept of “Genderfuck”, then this song will give you an excellent primer. With its loud guitars and a Pixies-esque middle-eight, it’s something entirely new from Neko.
Case seems most alive on these fast-paced tracks, such as “Bracing for Sunday”, which is a murder ballad about the killing of an incestuous rapist. So I’m sure the defence would argue for “justifiable homicide ballad”. She has confirmed in an interview that it’s not based on a true story, thank god. “City Swans” is a song that achieves the impossible: it’s a Country/Rock crossover that would be suitable for radio states in both Red and Blue states.