When Evilsponge previously
reviewed The Search I spoke of feeling something akin
to "parental pride" in witnessing the band's progression.
An odd phrase perhaps, but The Search are only starting to
become noticed outside of their native Sweden. I'll confess,
being in on the secret has felt like being part of some exclusive
little club. It's a privilege, certainly, to have been able
to enjoy their music, but the real honour is in sharing the
The Search started life as The Silverslut for whom Placebo
were a primary influence. After a series of EP releases and
the customary name change, The Search released their self-titled
debut in 2003. Dripping in dark indie anthems reminiscent of
the early 80s, reviews inevitably drew comparisons with The
Cure and The Sound. By 2004 they had already upped the ante.
The two mini albums, Bloodbathe and Bazaar
of Lush Loose Limbs, bundled on one CD, showed
considerable refinement both technically and in terms of songwriting.
Put simply Bloodbathe/Bazaar... soundtracked
a band growing up. Self-conscious, yet aware of their own place
and responsibilities within the musical spectrum, The Search
laid down a template for what would follow. Hushed, dreamy
lyrics carried by fragile, unashamed melodies. Comparisons
would move away from The Cure and The Sound towards the more
tender craftsmanship of The
If the previous two releases chaptered The Search's rise to adolescence, Deranged Minds Unite is every bit the adult installment it had to be. On this album, Rasmig Tekeyan's voice displays vulnerability comparable to Steve Kilbey, whilst the songwriting matches the sensitive, reflective maturity of Adrian Borland's solo period. Deranged doesn't have the immediacy of previous discs. More relevantly, it doesn't rely on instant appeal. If this is the grown up Search album, then these tracks certainly reward repeated listening. Our Swedes need no longer hide behind chiming guitars or effects. Their writing stands up by itself. With the exception of the retro synth-blast of Shadow, most of the 12 tracks on this collection develop and eventually blossom by their second chorus. The Dream Hall is a classic example, seemingly inoffensively pretty until its gorgeous finale sweeps our feet from beneath us.
The Search's musical arrangements may have sobered, but Tekeyan's lyrics remain
as fevered and imaginative as ever. I'd stop short of using the dreaded 'Goth'
word, although there are plenty of 'lady in window' moments. However, throughout
this record, particularly on choice cuts Mirages and Illusions and Foxes
of Kalahari our narrator travels, as if in a waking dream, confronting
memories of past loves and lost relationships. It's very effective. Strangers is
the title track in all but name only. Like The Dream Hall, and many
others, it's a slow-burner, but boy, when it catches it burns brightly. I'd
venture Strangers is their Under the Milky Way Tonight.
The real dichotomy at work within these songs is that they end precisely as they peak. I for one would have appreciated the extended Director's cut of this movie. Yet if that's the only complaint we have, what the Hell are we worrying about? Fall under this albums spell and you'll want to play it again and again.
Lapsed Churchgoers may just rediscover their faith.