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The Sound - From The Lions Mouth review (The Mick issue no.4 2004)

date: Apr 10, 2004



From its delicate Daniel In The Lions Den cover art, to the replacement of the jagged keyboard sound with a milder froth, this was a more sensitive album than ‘Jeopardy’; the short fuse replaced by a longer one. ‘Winning’ suggests the chill has gone, with an optimistic tune and tensile guitar friction, then the bass goes right through the middle of ‘Sense Of Purpose’ with the sort of plaintive delivery which might give more ringing testament to their influence on U2, in showing them how to do things in a less bombastic manner.

The lyrics gets sharper and the mood less flowery in ‘Contact The Fact’, with fabulous vocal control and hold, which moves on into gloomy raises bumps throughout ‘Skeletons’ and overall we’re getting subtle shades here, and becoming embroiled in character. ‘Judgement’ is a beautiful worry, bit with weedy guitar and irritating keyboards hat won’t settle down. ‘Fatal Flaw’ has a fuller, lower sound, as guitars splinter and a sense of emotional doom gathers, while the raw, pained ‘Possession’ sounds like an improved INXS, and ‘The Fire’ has a definite sense of the flaming jitters with bass bounce and skittish drums. ‘Silent Air’ is wonderfully touching, with a superb emotional drag to the haunting vocal performance, and then ‘New Dark Age; is the big send-off, which doesn’t sound as powerful these days, but at the time was a prickly rash of crushed venom. 

The live recordings of this seem better because more angst exists outside the studio, and if you hang on long enough you get a soppily chirpy ‘Hothouse’. This is the album which should have pushed them stage centre in the UK but they still found themselves in the wings, and it proved, sadly, that people take little real notice of serious musical journalism because the reviews were extremely positive and the reaction less than immediate, or long-lasting. This was a call to brains which went largely unheeded because with The Sound - horror or horrors! - you might have to work at something, work out various things, whereas you could see aimless bands getting further, which continues to this day. The lesson is therefore that if it’s crap but sounds clever it’ll hit hard with the dense majority, but if it has depth the shallow will always be magnetically repulsed. Bugger! 

2004 - Mick Mercer - The Mick issue no.4 

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