Strobelight Records

I wanted to pick a record from the few loitering around Lynda’s house, getting themselves under my feet, which would make as fitting end to the year as I wanted, and I chose this. I chose it because a lot of people who bandy the word Deathrock around like it is a bad smell or something worthy of suspicion, somehow fail to realise that Deathrock is Goth. While Goth had evolved and moved across boundaries to encapsulate everything from the inner mental turmoil of experimental dark artists a la Sopor Aeternus, through the medieval ethereal splendour of Lupercalia, or the elegant grand magical enterprises of Ataraxia. It can also be the brutish rock of NFD, or the smooth and mischievous storytelling of Rome Burns…BUT! Goth wasn’t always slick, created through warm talents, and meant to be comfortable or stretching the imagination. Goth was meant to feel like someone punching right through your solar plexus, and screaming horribly in your face throughout the entire experience.

Now, while I may be glad that isn’t how I generally appreciate it these days, the fact is that Goth was aggressive, jittery, bordering on furious, but in a decorous way. And in cutting to the chase I may as well tell you this isn’t a great album, but it is a very good debut, and the only problem is that it’s come too early, with only ten tracks.

BUT! If you’re 21 or under and need to understand why Goth can be exciting, you’re not going to get that from cyber sleekness or EBM flatulence, or from the higher realms of work dripping with archly spooky artistry. You need some clout, some wild vigour, and you need things basic and adventurously snotty. And while the early Sleeping Children releases sounded closest to Sex Gang in spirit, they have now moved onto ransacking the memories of Bauhaus.

’No Love For The Dead’ finds the vocals submerged beneath the brisk drum machine and chilly synth which combine to create something similar to the Batman TV theme. But then it goes all grey and dank character seeps in. That human touch established, they pick up the pace, complete with adroit guitar fizz and they hop through something with a genuinely unearthly, gruesome feel. ‘Love Sucks’ sees Mumur do a slaw-jawed (broken-jawed?) Murphy, and there’s something particularly ghoulish going on, as if the air is shuddering at their presence. ‘Murderer’s Dance’ manages to be both brighter and grubbier simultaneously, but while it ticks over neatly it isn’t cohesive enough which is something you notice with quite a few tracks. They’re almost there but not quite. BUT! That doesn’t matter.

‘Dusty Shade Of Red’ is tinkling, strolling drama but the vocal authority isn’t stamped forcefully enough, and the music throws the right ghastly shapes but none stick, which is mainly a production problem. ‘Poppies Screen The Light’ works fine, with supine scowling and bickering in a slightly demented sense, then ‘Life Of Vice’ is tumbling and shrill, and these sort of twisting entreaties are what make a band’s sound when they’re developing, so they have captured the rawness.

‘Couve Bien Les Cris Pres Du Coeur’ is another snickering fallout session which you have to come to terms with, as it’s left pretty open. ‘Lili’s Dead’ is grim and sour, but lacks impact, then ‘Between Your Legs’ whoops and bubbles delightfully, with crisp, slithering energy, and it’s into the closing ‘Lullabies For Debauchery’ which is just odd, and all but shapeless. BUT……we’ve reached the final BUT. They have worked well at playing with their sound. This is garbled, cavernous whispers, and if you stick with it there’s a horrible howl right at the very end.

This album isn’t great but it will be the roots of where they develop from, and will therefore become important to anyone who follows their work. For anyone who doesn’t even have any virulent modern Goth this is as good a place to start as any. Don’t wimp out and go with the polite succulence you usually hear in tempestuous form at clubs or what older Goths may tell you is the essence off the genre. It all starts with life and noise. Goth isn’t about being comfortable. EVER. Comfortable is Ethereal. Goth is about forever reaching.