Growing up...well hell even now, I'm the goth considered the token metal head by other goths and by metal heads their goth friend. Unfortunately then blending of the two genres has had mixed results best case scenarios being Type O Negative and Atriarch, worst case ...remember Nu Metal, Marilyn Manson... so when I find a post-punk/goth album with some punch and aggressiveness to it i'm pretty happy...in the most tragic way possible.
Formed in 2011 is is the London band's first Full Length is very well crafted. Gemma Thompson's guitar fills the gaps and knows its role in the rise and fall of tension. Sure there is no denying the Siouxsie influence, not just in Jehnny Beth's voice but in some of the herky jerky transitions that give it the abrasiveness of punk. I once read a quote by Rozz Williams that death rock came about as punks who like Halloween here the punk attack lies heavily in the drive of the bass which propels the opener "Shut Up", as the album progresses I can discern more where their personality lies.
The crisp production isn't too interested in slavishly recreating the vibe of the early eighties. The smoothed out end sections where they allow things to simmer in the night air are really strong, they know where they want to take the songs thus making their dynamics work really well. Would say the focus here is more on rocking than dancing in the bat cave. On the first listen reminded me of Cold In Berlin, though Ayse Hassan r doesn't secretly wear a Tool t-shirt underneath their Siouxsie Shirt.
They are convincing when they bust into the chorus of "I Am Here", Fay Milton's drumming is pretty impressive on this , though not the only song they make the most of the floor toms on to create a tribal feel. On " City's Full" an ode to over looked beauty in the vapid urban landscape, they take a breather towards the end though this one drones on the groove more. This song also establishes the tone of the album that they aren't keyed in on just one element of a sound and plan to beat it to death since like a hammer is their only tool.
It's on "Strife" where they album lays back in the darkness and get out of your face opening up room for melody. Here is where the delicate balance of trading the punch for beauty comes in like boxing in a glass house. Ayse Hassan's bass lines keep the forward and a sensual under current like night driving with a dashboard covered in cocaine, there is still an edge it's just sharpened in a different direction. "Waiting for a Sign" continues its lazy narcotic lull allowing you to get a closer listen to the singer pipes. I think the guitar is particularly strong here as well, weaving around the bass line. This also lets the build around the minute and a half mark have a higher ceiling to soar against.
the dancey "She Will" takes on a more Joy Division bass line with the guitar a ghost around it until they reconvene on punches, then back off again on the verses, then they build it way the fuck up with dense intensity, that hits the dark aggressive sonic sweet spot for me .
The bass driven "No Face" lunges at you with metallic swipes, with getting actually metal, yet their is some aggression being vented here. While "Hit Me" has a little too much of a blitzkrieg bop for my personal tastes I see where more punk inclined listeners will approve."Marshal Dear" comes close to being a ballad , i think the Piano is a really eerie touch to the song to make it sound like something from a David Lynch soundtrack, even before it takes a turn into lounge jazz.
In the whole goth revival of the past few years, they would be the best of the Siouxsie Worshipers, I even prefer them over the Yeah Yeah Yeahs , who younger listeners born in the nineties might want to compare them to. This is a pretty astonishing debut from a such a young band and comes highly recommended to fans of post-punk. While it's one of those rare albums I can just leave on and let it play on endless repeat and leaves me looking forward to the see where they go from here I still have to give this album a 9 for the one misstep where they take the punk thing too far so too keep it from getting a perfect ten.
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