Blacklist Review For The Quietus
May 29, 2010, 12:37 am
Filed under: Album Reviews, Recommended Albums | Tags:

Try as you might to locate a grain of originality within this debut – something that distinguishes Blacklist from their inky brethren – but save a couple of pop years and a fetish for early metal, there’s very little by way of a new sonic perspective. In the still ongoing raid on the post-punk continuum, increasingly the sum total of artistic thinking seems to be ‘make it dark, make it cold, make it mysterious; all else is incidental’, the only raison d’être of the new class being that of worshipful reminiscence. Blacklist are no different. According to them we’ve made it to say about mid-1983, by which time Goth was completing its transformation into Goth-Rock and moonless woods were to play host to deathly imaginings of a more fantastical kind. Gone is the fatigue, the doubt, the meta-viewpoint and the coiled agitation, traded in for plump riffs, posturing, morose romanticism and a rocking abandonment.

But switch off the serious music fan in you that prioritizes the imperative for new sounds and you’ll find a lot to savour in the glistening monolith of imitation that is Midnight Of The Century. A steely compound of Sisters Of Mercy, The Cult, The Bunnymen and various other shadowy antecedents, it’s a triumph of theatrical rock with its players the vengeful seraphim of an imperfect God, as their stupendously po-faced vocalist Josh Strawn’s might have it.

Opener ‘Still Changes’ bursts our manacles with vainglorious verve, sound tracking some dream Wim Wenders remake of The Lost Boys. Followed by the panoramic ‘Flight Of The Demoiselles’ which is about as big as they come, riffing (quite literally) on War-period U2 and coming to a Greek amphitheatre near you. Stopping only to implant a rocketing chorus or ten they storm through grandiose Orwell tribute ‘Shock Of the Falcon’ and the acoustic ‘Odessa’ while ‘Language Of The Living Dead’ and ‘Poison for Tomorrow’ find inspiration in the likes of Suede and The Psychedelic Furs, gliding on a steady stream of vaporous, chorused guitar. Just as physical as they are graceful, it’s neither mawkish or tastelessly glam and the soft-focus production is verdant and balmy yet clean – at once marbled but homely. The slow-burning meditation at the back end of the album affords some necessary variety before a relatively brighter, almost positive finish in ‘When Worlds Collide’ and ‘The Believer’ engenders a faint levity. ‘Julie Speaks’ heralds the most overt foray into Edge-y bombast that suggests if anyone can return Goth-Rock to the charts then Blacklist are the best bet yet.

Released on Wierd Records – flame-bearers of all things coldwave – Midnight must gleam like a black pearl in the tofu-stinking love-in that is gentrified Brooklyn. Moreso, Blacklist differ from their simpering neighbours in the borough in the way that Midnight teems with a passé zeal for political soap-boxing. Refreshingly, Blacklist burn with young idealism that will be taken seriously by next to no one, largely because it also serves to fortify the albums Euro-chic pretensions. Granted, the slogans range from the naïve to the cornball and undoubtedly Strawn is first and foremost a fantasist – in his head he’s pleasuring beautiful Parisian revolutionaries as the bombs fall (because John Prescott on a factory visit isn’t sexy)- but as an effort to actually stand for something, it’s commendable. John Calvert

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