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The Sound - Jeopardy review (The Mick issue no.4 2004)

date: Apr 10, 2004


( Renascent) 

It’s a wonderfully abrasive but also emotional debut, bulked out by the inclusion of their ‘Live Instinct’ EP which was originally a promo item in Holland where the band became huge, and within a few lines of ‘I Can’t Escape Myself’ you’d have one reaction: oh, fuck! ‘So many feelings Pent up in here, Left alone, I’m with The one I most fear’ 

Have you noticed how you never see Adrian Borland and the young Micky Rooney in the same photograph together? Urban Myth my arse! There’s something creepy with the Space Time Continuum going on here. Rooney got the laughs and the peculiar choice of clothes, Borland got the soul-searching, with a defective map. You’ll also be asking yourself how can a song seem so empty but be so driven? The drumming is nicely bumpy, there are tinny guitar chippings everywhere and weird alien keyboard sounds, but this was The Sound way as often as not, because this was the time directly after Punk we’re talking about when mere anger gave way to investigation. In Goth that meant mystery and romantic abstraction, but within what was to become Indie circles it meant introverts looking deep, deep inside, and often reflecting back a bleak torment. Singer/ guitarist Adrian Borland knew his bleakness all too well.

Guitar flashes briefly ignite a torpid chorus, and you’re hooked, then swallowed up by the trim epic that is ‘Heartland’ Reading a Chris Roberts posthumous article on The Sound following Adrian Borland’s suicide, I didn’t realise Borland credited U2 with nicking ‘his stuff’ (you don’t suppose it was them who had my record collection?) and you think pfft, some people and their delusions of grandeur, except there’s a few weird facts to consider. If you had the misfortune to catch early U2 performances around ’79 you’d know how dire they were, and ‘Heartland ‘ (plus Dreaming’) are virtual blueprints, but with a hard, vital feel! So, who can say? (It appears U2 admitted to being fans too.) 

Live, this song would literally whisk the Audience, with its beautifully chiselled guitar where Raynes Park met Detroit, as they gave us molten indie. ‘Hour Of Need’; where bass is the prominent instrument also does vouch for the soul element in the work (evident even on The Outsiders’ albums), just as ‘Words Fail Me’ is one of their weakest tracks ever, being weirdly fast and twisting, with basic lyrics and groaning sax, but where songs are duller than the majority they’re certainly over quickly, with energy. ‘Missiles’ is another classic, from a time when we really didn’t give a toss, because we sensed the end might be nigh at any day, and live I can still remember Borland’s weird stamping actions as he thudded into his guitar, straining as he sung like a guard dog on the full extent of its chain; as if his whole body was angry and revolted and his organs wanted out.

There’s brilliant introductory lyrics, which paint the picture, and then a question, making it direct but never predictable. And then ‘Heyday’ which is a stunning, indignant explosion, with guitar and bass pumping us up for a gigantic chorus. The title track sees knobbly guitar and firm bass strolling, and maybe Fine Young Cannibals nicked this jerky guitar sound! ’Night Versus Day’ is plainly lugubrious, with a weird clomping passage, ‘Resistance’ is generic mush with skipping keyboards and scatty Punk lyrics, ‘Dreaming’ is a swoon, and ‘Desire’ a very odd closer, with a very sparse feel and untimely finish. The live bonuses then include a jollier ‘Jeopardy’, glowering ‘Brute Force’ so-so ‘Heartland’ and punkish glee in the roughly hewn ‘Coldbeat’, making for a fabulous album over all. I guarantee that if you’re in a band you’ll listen to this and wish that you had written these songs. 

2004 - Mick Mercer - The Mick issue no.4 

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