Credit: Emily Birds
Music by Tanner Stechnij

Best Albums of 2021: Lingua Ignota | Sinner Get Ready

January 8, 2022

15. Few acts have reinvented themselves in the way Kristin Hayter has on her third album, a huge departure in sound from the abrasive, industrial, and electronic timbres of her debut and sophomore outings. But the reinvention also comes from the album’s essence and not just its sonorities: it’s impossible to talk about Sinner Get Ready now without acknowledging the psychological, physical, and sexual abuse of Hayter by Daughter’s frontman, articulated on the album but has also detailed in a statement. This abuse started shortly after Hayter moved in with Marshall in Pennsylvania, the setting, so to speak, of the album as she beckons to Appalachian Folk tradition with twangy reeds and strings used hauntingly, tall grasses seen disquietingly, and Christian liturgy and organ used at once to highlight the hypocrisy of the fellowship but also to seek earnest salvation. Despite the ornate and frequently robust instrumentation, Sinners Get Ready is a largely solitary experience, with Hayter’s vocals foreground and impossible to peel away from, each syllable precisely pitched tonally, emotively, and evocatively. On “Pennsylvania Furnace,” the closest thing to a Lingua Ignota piano ballad, Hayter sounds mournful, precious, and pious, and she transitions into “Repent Now Confess Now,” featuring several vocal parts layered on top of each other in an eerie incantation. On “The Order of Spiritual Virgins,” the album opener, imbued with harsh noise, Hayter’s voice is a droning threat, mimicking the locust and willowy winds. 

In an album full of shocking musical ideas and direct, painful lyrics, the most stand-out moment comes in centerpiece “Man Is Like a Spring Flower,” a post-minimalist gothic country chamber piece. Hayter’s effortless falsetto vocalization is accompanied by repetitive reeds, pizzicato strings, and bells, the combination presenting a chirpy melody and leaving space for an emotional main vocal line, which sounds like it’s sung between tears. The music swells and distorts only to cut off, bleeding into a recording of a woman saying she’s protected from COVID by the blood of God, an unnerving start to the album’s closer, “The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata,” a harp hymnal in which Hayter sings of the paradise she longs for. It’s a gorgeous, thorny finish to an album that’s always both of those things, like all of Lingua Ignota’s music. It’s a gift to receive this music, a document of not only one woman’s experiences at the hands of disturbed men who wronged her, but also a seminal work for our fucked times.