Brooklyn goth-folk duo Charming Disaster was formed in 2012 by singer/songwriters Ellia Bisker (vocals, ukulele, piano) and Jeff Morris (vocals, guitar, piano). Their name evokes their interest in macabre stories about things going wrong or people getting in trouble – describing both the duality one might find in their “happy but morbid” (as one fan described it) music – and also the act of cultivating trouble: “charming disaster like you might charm a snake.”
Charming Disaster’s new album SPELLS + RITUALS has eleven elegant story songs made from a passionate fandom for the American Gothic humor of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, the noir storytelling of Raymond Chandler, the murder ballads of the Americana tradition, and the dramatic flair of the cabaret. The hypnotic, wickedly enchanting music of poisonous opener “Blacksnake,” the mind-bending mythic “Baba Yaga,” the demonically sympathetic “Devil May Care,” and the sultry yet foreboding “Fire Eater” are all generously melodic and seem the product of mesmerization-induced rhythms. It’s all done with salty and dangerous humor, as in the love-hate garage-soul anthem, “Be My Bride of Frankenstein” and go-go booted girl group closer, “Soft Apocalypse,” about imminent earthly cessation (“the end of the world is not as bad as you’ve heard”).
Their two voices have explored prior illuminating if bleak narratives with seductive musical charisma, delectably delineated with show-tune care and “virtuosic foot percussion.” On previously critically acclaimed albums Love, Crime & Other Trouble (2015) and Cautionary Tales (2017), they have prepared the world for their tales of obsession, madness, dark fairy tales, and liminal spirituality and phenomena.