In the Danish fairy tale “Esben and the Witch,” the unappreciated runt of 12 brothers saves his siblings from certain death and ends up a hero. In the Brighton, England-based gothy indie rock outfit Esben and the Witch, two men and a woman wander through fog and shadows without ever reaching similar catharsis — but they don't seem to mind. “We find fairy tales like 'Esben' more melancholic and mysterious than they first seem,” guitarist Thomas Fisher said in a 2010 interview, and the same could be said of the group's music. On its second album, Wash the Sins Not Only the Face, Esben uses Rachel Davies' slender voice and alternately imposing and sparse instrumentation to explore an introspective brand of darkness: the sort that incites sad, unsatisfying dreams rather than straight-up nightmares.
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