“Since You Went to Heaven” is the standout track on Brandy Clarke’s new album, an incredibly controlled and heartbreaking narrative of personal and social collapse. “Love Can Go to Hell,” “You Can Come Over” and “Broke” are also very good, although I’m not sure they’re quite as good as the best tracks on her previous album, 12 Stories. Some of the other tracks, like the the title track “Big Day in a Small Town” and “Drinkin’ Smokin’ Cheatin'” seem unfinished, more sketches than complete songs, as they both have a structure that suggests a narrative but they lack a dramatic payoff. And one song, “Daughter,” leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. In the song, the narrator hopes that a philandering ex will some day have a daughter, in order for him to get some sense of what he’s put women through. The problem is, in the song the daughter exists purely as a prop for this revenge, with no consideration for what the daughter might be suffering at the hands of the men who repeat her father’s poor treatment of women. I don’t think the characters portrayed or performed in a song need to be morally right, and it could be worthwhile to write a song from the perspective of a woman who is so angry at how she’s been treated that she doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process of her revenge, but I don’t hear that in Clark’s performance here.
I think I’ve heard some stuff by Niki & the Dove before, but if I have it hasn’t made any impression on me. That’s not the case with their excellent new album, Everybody’s Heart is Broken Now. It’s another iteration on 80s revival pop, but with a distinct twist. The album dismantles and rebuilds disco with a kind of ice-cold precision which is disconcerting, beautiful but also incredibly affecting, especially in the album’s extended finale, “Ode to Dance Floor.”
Fakear’s Animal is some beautiful, intricate French dance music.
It’s goth week at Voyou Désoeuvré! None of the tracks I’ve mentioned above are strictly goth, but there’s something goth-ish in Niki & the Dove’s chill and Fakear’s downbeat dance. And there’s more than a little goth (specifically, Sisters of Mercy) to Field Harmonics‘s atmospheric dance-synthpop.
Steady Holiday’s “Open Water” is an interesting combination of Goldfrapp’s recent sweeping drama with a southern-California gothic that’s more reminiscent of Lana Del Rey.
Garbage’s new album, Strange Little Birds, sounds pretty much like you’ld expect a Garbage album to sound. I like the almost despairing “Even though our Love is Doomed,” and if anyone can tell my what 90s proto-grunge record “We Never Tell” reminds me of, I’d be much obliged.
“Your Name” by Esther Valee is kind of goth-tropical-house, which turns out to be a better combination than you might think.
“Lauren” finds Men I Trust continuing to make catchy, retro, Italo-esque tracks.
Coco Morier’s “Dreamer” is similarly catchy and retro and even more Italo-esque, but a bit more upbeat.
Chvrches are surely the most successful band making the kind of gloomy synthpop I post a lot of, but I generally find them a bit unengaging. Their new track with Hayley Williams, “Bury It,” is basically a mash-up of “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Time after Time,” though, so that’s good.
Finally, if goth week at Voyou Désoeuvré has got a bit depressing, what you need to listen to is Kero Kero Bonito’s extremely cute #wrongtowork banger “Break.”