Elegies to Lessons Learnt ( Beggars Banquet, 2007 )
Unslushed because: It was a slow day. Possibly it was raining, leaving me vulnerable to the effusive PR: “powerful tales of morose events from bygone days,” “carefully structured, adorning melodies,” “an incredible range of emotions,” “a history of playing explosive live shows.” Bottom line: “This debut album is highly anticipated.”
Factors not initially considered: That the band’s name is really stupid. That the word “Elegies” is in the title.
On further review: Eleven humorless, self-indulgent, and, worst of all, formulaic dirges from a gang of poseurs who aren’t half as wry as they think they are. The lyrics and vocal delivery are bad late-period Morrissey—”Will you be surprised when the flames consume you/As God claims his retribution?” (from “Twenty-five Sins”)—and on each song the band pouts along until the last minute or so, when the stompboxes finally get stomped as if they’re connected to one of those timers my parents use to turn on the living-room lamp when they’re out of town. It’s all a little like Bruce McCulloch’s goth-grunge parody, Death Lurks, in Brain Candy, except it’s not funny or even particularly heavy. A forced march through Bummerland, both for what’s on the surface (musical glop) and for what’s beneath it (a cynical industry preying on bad vibes).
“But they’re awesome live,” the little Beggars Banquet PR rep in my head is saying.
Maybe, but I seriously doubt their shows are very fun. Less Ian Curtis, more Ian Hunter, you know?