Modern grace work well with trad Goth signatures, almost facilitating a smoother crossing of the temporal notepaper, and it’s no coincidence this record has that sleek modern maturity Adoration or The Eden House exhibited, for various reasons. There is here a stylised solemnity that pulls down any tattered curtains and hauls open ivy-gripped French windows to let in simple, life-enhancing air among fusty possibilities, cleaning everything. All it takes is a light, dimpled keyboard fragrance and the desolate starts to acquire a healthy tinge, the intrinsically dramatic vocal delivery no longer a tormented fantasy but something plunging towards romance. Imagine the Neffs becoming debonair and you’re almost there.
‘My Child’ is succulent while windblown, the fragile guitar of Matt Helm (yes, Pretentious Moi?) deceptively steely as Rob Leydon (Voices Of Masada) steps up to the mike and declaims darkly. He extends notes with a stern quality, accusing as much as illuminating, and there is always a discreetly vivid lungpower to Panos Theodoropoulos’ bass, because rhythm is life, not a set of sonic handcuffs. This leaves Christina Emery to dart through with some tantalising violin although my battered ears probably mistake her for some extra guitar at times, just as I keep thinking I can detect some keyboards, but I dare say that’s just senility beckoning. It’s Goth Jim, but there’s no-one called Jim here, so be careful.
After an engaging opener which has a grizzled face to cover nimble deportment ‘Running From The Dawn’ is a sleeker thing, with a genteel bass bounce and fluttering guitar insinuations making the vocals fall into step so things become casually uplifting, not sonorous and sleepy. A charming chorus seems to stretch and ache for a positive purpose. Our stylish cat Suchard seems particularly drawn to this one as the violin saws prettily and vocals sway then croon.
‘Lost For Words’ is pretty much the same song but with a brisker vocal forward march and a cleaner arrangement. ‘Last Chance’ weeps angelically, guitar drizzling across empty spaces left by thoughtful vocals, and the playfully wobbling ‘Wide Awake’ rides the bass like a drunk driver. Skimpy funkoid guitar slides underneath as things becomes lusciously hazy.
‘Miracles’ has elegant intentions waylaid by an uncouth vocal swarm which is interesting, creating an intriguing, ‘Without You’ flowing on the eternally uncredited keys, vocals swimming heartily against the becoming tide, robust emotional ripples spreading. ‘Forgive Us Now’ is willowy wibbling, picturesque without gripping, but the more urgent ‘Nothing To Hide’ criss-crossed by piquant strings and dappled percussive traits takes us out on a nicely rickety limb, impishly watchful lyrics and bubbling bass catching the ear.
This is a beautiful record which makes for charming company although they haven’t emphatically stamped their own presence on the sounds somehow. It’s a bit too easy going perhaps, but that’s because it’s not hard going really, and not clinging to the past is always a good sign. Their mission as they develop is to expose their own distinct character.