written by Chris Familton
Peter Murphy is one of those iconic post punk figures who has managed to maintain a mystique and a cult following long after his career has peaked. His claim to fame came with Bauhaus who released some stellar music in a short period at the dawn of the 1980s before the band split. While Murphy went on to initially form a new band (Dali’s Car) with Japan’s Mick Karn before going solo, the rest of Bauhaus reconvened as Love and Rockets and found moderate fame in their own right. Bauhaus are rightfully considered one of the originators of the goth music scene and Murphy’s aesthetic and musical commitment to the concept of goth still holds firm on this, his ninth solo album.
Goth was always strongly influenced by glam and Murphy isn’t afraid to tip his hat in that direction on the opening track Velocity Bird. The song roars like a cousin to Suffragette City and it works wonderfully well with Murphy’s austere intonation still sounding rich and vital. Seesaw Sway sounds remarkably similar to fellow dark post punkers Sisters Of Mercy both musically and in the way Murphy strains and strangles the chorus. Peace To Earth is another gloom-glam, riff heavy track that resembles Velvet Revolver before I Spit Roses pulls the curtains and withdraws to a less manic place that channels The Cure before Murphy does a spitting image rendition of Bono in the chorus.
Things start going awry from the middle of Ninth with some bizarre phrasing and overacted singing creeping into the songs. Memory Go is a lightweight pop/punk song that offers little in the way of dynamics or mood while Uneven & Brittle takes a stab at electro rock in a stop start and bloodless way. Things don’t improve until the final track Creme de la Creme, stripped of the over-emoting and rock bombast it still harbors a Bowie fixation, nestling into art rock territory.
What could have been a perfect opportunity to restate the case for one of post punks more enigmatic figures fails decidedly. Ninth as an EP comprised of the album’s first five songs would have been an impressive statement yet the rest of the record distills the quality of that first clutch of songs. Murphy has an undeniably magnificent voice but here he is straining to support it with songs of an equal calibre.
this review was first published on FasterLouder