arthquake” starts with suspended chords so you don’t know what key the song is supposed to be in. A neat trick for making things sound sophisticated. Then there’s some backward cymbal hits and there’s an interesting pseudo-reggae beat, also an odd number of bars in the verse so it stops at a different time than you think it’s going to. The chorus has an anaemic-sounding ‘power’ guitar playing chords on the bottom end with another guitar doubling the top two notes of the chord on the high end. Maybe I’m hearing those and they aren’t there. The chorus phrase is “I’m not alright” and there’s descant vocals. Some of the lyric phrases (“I’ll be laughing”, “I must be dreaming”) are sung in a falsetto yelp. Chord sequence in the verses is D-C-A-G while in the choruses it’s F#-G-B-D. The song ends with a postpunk type guitar solo, notes played on the beat like U2. The second track “Devil Song” lyrically is like Nick Cave’s “Devil Inside” from his 1987 album Kick. It’s in 12/8 time. The falsetto-yelp phrase here is “dealt out the lashes”. He who smelt it… There’s an interesting Manson Family vocal backup and guitar slides and squeaks punctuating the lyrics in the second verse. Made-for-commercial-TV horror films are effective because the ad breaks counterbalance the scripted drama in a callous and disorienting manner, like the cops in Last House on the Left. The end of the track is psychedelic with male/female singers repeating the phrase “Well, I found…” and getting more frenzied each time. I think they found a copy of Gish. “Leaving You Out” is the third track and it’s another roots-dub number except for the cymbals on the chorus which turn it into a power-metal song except for the jazz bit. There’s a three-note bassline on the verse but one of the notes sounds a bit ‘off’ which probably means it’s supposed to be another suspended chord. There’s a French bit in the middle like on the Police album with the fucked-up LED on the cover, like when the light’s shining on your alarm clock and you can’t tell what time it is so you go back to bed anyway to wait until it’s dark and you can at least read the damn thing. The chorus here is “I can’t see how you could want this” which he repeats until his larynx falls out, in fact he sounds a bit like Trent Reznor. “Idle” is a slow dark dirge that goes “tired of being tired” which is good because it reminded me of Toronto punk classic “Tired of Waking Up Tired” by the Diodes. The chorus is way faster than the verse and “I swear I am thinking” is the falsetto-yelp phrase which I don’t mind this time because it reminds me of David Byrne who I liked on the first four Talking Heads albums just like everybody else. However the Byrne effect is ruined when he goes back to being Trent Reznor. The last part of the song has a very abrasive guitar tone which they should use more. Like the other songs this ends with a guitar solo except it’s a bit less like U2 as it has more notes in it, also there’s all this panning where the notes go from left- to right-channel and back again really fast, and there’s phasing on them. It’s great, there should be more of that, then the production would sound more ‘experimental’ and less adequate considering the circumstances’ because at a few points the overall sound makes the CD seem like it’s been smuggled out of a Sudanese prison by an socioethnomusicologist for Amnesty International but then it makes some of the bits sound more authentically creepy like some of the stuff you find in small-town Xtian record stores which I am going to start a serious collection of soon.
Reviewed by: Dave Queen
Reviewed on: 2004-01-30