Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Goth King Sings

Peter Murphy just released his ninth solo album, appropriately, if simply, called "Ninth".
So, let's get the obvious out of the way: was I a big fan of Bauhaus? Yes, I was. However, I'm not enough of any kind of purist to consider myself a goth, or an ex goth, or whatever. I never wore all black, never wore makeup, didn't like a ton of "Goth" mainstays, like Alien Sex Fiend, The Mission, and latter day Christian Death. I got into some bands that got called "goth" like Joy Division, Killing Joke, Bauhaus, and Kommunity FK not for some kind of creepy death obsession of bad poetry. I thought they were all pretty good post punk, that's all. I don't see a huge difference, musically, between Bauhaus and "Sandanista" era Clash. Sure, they like minor keys, but so did Japan at the time, and who calls them Goth?
So, I didn't buy this for goth nostalgia. Also, the last Peter Murphy I bought was "Deep", in 1990. No, I'm not pining for his 1990's output. What I liked about Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, Love Hysteria, and Deep and what I like about this brand new one is the full range of emotions, and he only seems to have that whenever he's just left Bauhaus. Seriously- he left the first time in the mid 1980's, and between Dali's Car, and the first couple of solo records, he's on Bowie-esque fire- going from hard glam to lushly orchestrated neo-standards track to track. Now, he left Bauhaus in 2009, and he puts this out, and I was expecting a return to the failed Turkish pop of Dust, but instead this is again, a Bowie-esque mix of standards and Glam rock- like Bing Crosby joins Slade. I've downloaded it to my itunes, and listened to it twice, and it came out yesterday. Get the notion? Yes, it's very sweeping melodramatic music, with serious mood swings, and Murphy's odd croon. But- I've not heard glammy post punk with this kind of range since Murphy and Andrew Eldritch were locked into some kind of race to see who could out "Heroes" Bowie ( and if you can't hear the debt to Bowie, I'd suggest you go back and re-listen to everything Bowie put out from 1976 to 1982, then get back to me) Highlights are the singles "I spit Roses" and "Seesaw Sway" but also rockers like "Uneven & Brittle".
Is it nostalgia, because he's returned to a sound I wish he'd never left? I guess it could be. But, I don't want a Peter Murphy album where he plays a bunch of dubstep and baroque folk music. I like him doing a particularly glammy and theatrical kind of Alt rock and pop. I like the songs to have some reverb on the guitars, some fretless bass, and that baritone croon. That's his sound, his corner of the market, and so I'd call it no more nostalgia than I'd say that Levi's are doing nostalgia for making jeans. So, fine, call him the Goth King. If you want to reduce it down to that, feel free. But just listen to him sing...

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