BY FRED MILLS
Straight outta Austin, they come, these two lads ‘n’ a lass, but their hearts belong to Manchester—specifically, circa 1979-80, when Joy Division was hurtling towards fame and, ultimately, oblivion. This is no kneejerk critic’s comparison, mind you; The Dead Space freely admits its allegiances, even adding the names Bauhaus and the Swans to the stew so as to pre-empt the pointy-headed ruminations of trainspotters.
It’s a train well worth hopping, though, the ride tense and compelling. Even if you overlook the overt JD-isms found in, say, the throb, chime and bass-heavy thrust of “Behind the Wall” (which suggests a more manic “Shadowplay”), or the relentless, hypnotic drone of “Both Eyes” (the repetitive guitar line is pure Bernard Sumner), bassist Quin Galavis has a vocal style eerily reminiscent of Ian Curtis. His baritone isn’t quite as deep, perhaps, but when he rises in tone during a moment of excitation, the midrange is uncanny. You half expect him to have a seizure right there in front of you.
Yet this is certainly not a one-dimensional outfit. The slam-crash postpunk crunch that is “You’re Fake” is like a hardcore version of Wire, while “Fractured Push” has a more airy, more melodic neopsychedelic vibe reminiscent of vintage Echo & the Bunnymen (add “Liverpool” to our travelogue in the first paragraph). Drenched in echo and atmosphere, with the kind of steeliness that must surely translate into raw, nervy emotion onstage, the Dead Space’s music catches you offguard but holds your attention. They’re not gonna be the ones to blink first—are you?
Consumer note: This wax 12” gem has initial copies (all 100 of ‘em) pressed on “coke bottle clear vinyl” so you know that’s pure catnip – no fakin’.
DOWNLOAD: “Behind the Wall,” “Fractured Push”