MAGNET’s #1 Album Of 2017: Waxahatchee’s “Out In The Storm”

Make no mistake, MAGNET’s album of the year is about a nasty breakup, but it’s not completely informed by misery and dejection. Out In The Storm also conveys a tangible sense of freedom and relief. Through 10 tracks of tightly rendered self-revelation, Katie Crutchfield sounds like a woman on a mission—one who’s been thrust headlong into a cyclone of relational dysfunction and come out the other side transformed. “If I turn to stone, the whole world keeps turnin’,” she sings on “Silver,” the ruggedly catchy first single. “I went out in the storm, and I’m never returnin’.” Such hard-won clarity is cathartic, but there’s also a sense of inner peace, indicating that Crutchfield spent some time sorting through her feelings and gaining perspective before putting proverbial pen to paper. Veteran producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, Hold Steady) was the perfect choice to stabilize Crutchfield’s abrupt mood swings and make her angrier moments palatable and sometimes even beautiful. Though beefy and rock-focused, it’s a sound that’s malleable enough to veer from dense to atmospheric to delicate pretty much on a whim. The result is Waxahatchee’s most focused and confident statement so far. Hell, it’s even a little optimistic. —Hobart Rowland; photo by Gene Smirnov