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The Sound - From the Lions Mouth review (New Musical Express 31-10-1981)

date: Oct 31, 1981


From The Lions Mouth (Korova) 

THE SOUND'S second LP carries on where 'Jeopardy', their first, left off, with a search for contact or (non-religious) communion of some kind. It's a simple hope, expressed with deceptive simplicity, but then the present-day socially aware rock'n'roll group-refuses to die when things get tough. What some may see as pessimistic wallowing is actually a confrontation and shaking-off of despondency, a determination to face facts rather than hide in escapism. As the single 'Sense Of Purpose' would have it, it's "a call to arms, a call to use arms/ a call to brains, a call to use some brains/ a call to the heart, a call to have a heart/ to have a sense of purpose again. "Simple, see?

It's a direction and determination they share with The Comsat Angels, and they approach things in a somewhat similar manner (not for nothing did the two tour together recently): there's the minimal, sketch-style approach to music-making in general, with a strong rhythm section overlaid with oblique guitar and keyboard parts - not so much "fleshed out" as subtlety splashed with hints of colour and texture - and there's a certain positivism, a strength through trial and endurance which mirrors the progress of the Comsats' dauntless 'Sleep No More'. Though they mightn't realise it. The Sound are confronting the Single Greatest Philosophical Problem Of The Age on 'From The Lions Mouth', that of individualism and collectivism; the songs here are infused with a certainty of individuality and apartness - and all that that entails - but well aware of the need for coming-together in an era which has seen apartness emphasized to lethal levels. They still care, the foolish boys, in a way others have forgotten how to. The opening track on the LP's called 'Winning', and at least they're making some attempt. 

At their least invigorating. The Sound can degenerate into the standard riffy rockiness of a U2, as on 'The Fire', midway through the second side; balancing that, however, is an emotional depth and movement close to the spirit of Joy Division. The understated melody and string-synth wash of 'Silent Air' is very much in this vein, on a simple love song which could well be directed to JD: "you showed me that silence/ that haunts this troubled world/ you showed me that silence/ can speak louder than words. " That reference point is apparent, too, in the rumbling, thunderous distance of the drums on the closing 'New Dark Age'. This, perhaps, is the track which best encapsulates The Sound's (or more precisely lyricist Adrian Borland's), uh, "worldview", that of a vice tightening on tired moral muscles which would rather ignore its grip. Can you feel the pinch? The Sound's is music seen as other than a bauble or a duvet. Why not? 

Andy Gill (New Musical Express 31-10-1981)

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