Peter Murphy ‘Lion’ Review; melodramatic Goth vocalist roars mightily on his latest release.
‘Lion’, Peter Murphy’s 10th album is produced by Killing Joke bassist Youth, and his influence is front and center on opening track ‘Hang Up.’ Dark electronic beats and skittering guitars send former Bauhaus frontman into abrasive liftoff; his sonorous baritone reduced to a granulated roar akin to Killing Joke vocalist Jaz Coleman.
It’s a striking beginning to the album, planting the seed that this marks a sonic departure for the usually more melodic Murphy vocal stylings. Well, yes and no.
‘Lion’ in many respects acts like a hybrid of Murphy’s most experimental works; the techno flirtations of 1995’s ‘Cascade’, the Middle Eastern submersion of 2002’s ‘Dust’ and the muscular guitar rock of 2011’s ‘Ninth.’
Single ‘I Am My Own Name’ is a perfect distillation of these styles; exotic intro, goth chill keyboards and Murphy’s voice in more melodic mode, and ‘Low Tar Stars’ has a 80’s synth-pop pastiche (complete with 808 percussion stabs).
Murphy sounds alive and invigorated, good news for an artists who had a troubling past year of legal troubles.
Murphy and Youth offer a perfect Yin and Yang dichotomy, mining all the elements of their respective sub-genres, making for a high adrenaline effort.
Not every song is a success however, both ‘The Ghosts of Shokan Lake’ and ‘Holy Clown’ get too repetitive, feeling more like sonic sketches than fully formed songs. And mid-tempo rocker ‘Eliza’ is slightly derailed by a chorus with over-tracked vocals and a meandering melody.
For those Murphy fans not comfortable with a man in his 50’s bashing his vocal chords, take heart, he makes room for a few sepia toned ballads, the best being the wistful ‘I’m On Your Side’ and the dusky ‘Loctaine.’
Taken on the sum of its parts, ‘Lion’ is a strong effort; it’s always refreshing to see an artist advancing in years rocking out with the passion of his youth. It may not be the best album in Murphy’s catalogue, but it proves he can still roar with theatrical grandeur.
Want to buy ‘Lion’ on iTunes or Amazon? You can pre-order via the links below. And you can stream it for free via Consequence Of Sound ahead of its June 3rd release.
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