Reasons to be cheerful?
The latest post-punk revisit sees the turn of Dutch-based Silence Is Sexy
to don the 80s raincoats and attempt to wring something different out of abrasive,
jagged guitars. Do they give us a different take? Yes. For starters, this time Joy
Division isn't the obvious reference point. Wire, Gang
of Four, and Magazine make a more plausible genetic composition. Of the
current crop, certainly Film School and Placebo enter the mind, but Silence
is Sexy might be the first to admit they lack the killer choruses of Brian
Moloko's transatlantic outfit.
Everything You Should Know has a dark majesty. I suspect many
reviews will be constructed around a compare and contrast with the likes of
Editors and Interpol. Silence Is Sexy probably have a much fuller sound than
either, albeit a dark one. So impenetrably dark in fact that it took me a lot
of listens before I began to appreciate this record.
We begin invitingly enough
with the impressive This Is Our Start? This could almost pass as a
toe-tapper. What follows is the truly testing side of Silence Is Sexy. Hendrik-Jan
De Wolff sings with a nasal pierce that recalls Joakim Berg from Kent. Unlike
the Swedes, Silence Is Sexy's music pulls in the same direction, i.e. downwards.
It won't be for everybody, certainly, but a certain demographic set might
find much to admire here. Lush strings are applied with the perfect degree
of skill end moderation. Guitars are tuned to string-testing limits. Like
Placebo, it's a great sound. Very pleasing. Yet perhaps not enough on its
Brave name, Silence Is Sexy. Kind of sits up and begs the critic to say "sexier
than this record" or some such glib throwaway. A cheap laugh in the place of
considered analysis. More likely, they are named for an Einstürzende Neubauten.
Negotiate past the truly exhausting Hurt and
the rewards are there. Us is a triumphant highlight. Us reminds
me of…….something? The guest violins are nagging away at the memory banks.
The Smiths maybe? (Should I play it for the umpteenth time and concentrate
hard, or should I publish a "maybe"?) Annoying, then but in a nice way. Ages has
the prettiest guitar sound and a "Be my home" call-out that really hits the
spot. Isle in the Sun is another tiring dirge saved by the sonic maelstrom
near the end and perfect use of handclaps. Don't you just love handclaps?
Reasons to be cheerful? Beautiful gatefold digipak with lyric sheet, a barcode that turns into trees, pleasingly highly-tuned guitars, handclaps, violins ….all of these, certainly, but most of all, the inescapable feeling that this band is really capable of something quite special. They aren't quite there yet but even their misery can be sexy in places.
Worth a try.