BY GIL MACIAS
The Godfather of Goth returns in prime form with Lion, his follow up to Ninth (2011), and it outshines his previous album in all possible ways. Ninth was a straight up rock album, a solid, good but not great effort that lacked variety and scale. This time, the music is more stylized, experimental and enriched, exploring various sounds and Murphy seems more confident than ever before. Some of this newfound brilliance can be credited to Youth (aka Martin Glover, the bassist of Killing Joke) who steps in as producer this time.
Things kick off with “Hang Up,” which is one of Murphy’s most addictive songs in years. It’s a towering rock anthem that clocks in at nearly 6 minutes, but it’s so damn good, you just want it to keep going. “Low Tar Stars” transports you back to an ‘80s Goth club and it’s the type of track that was lacking and sorely missed on an album like Ninth. It’s a dark disco track, with energetic synths and a throbbing beat that sounds like it might’ve been co-produced by the great Giorgio Moroder. Peter, make this one of your singles and get started on some remixes, please.
“Eliza” is another grand scale pop-anthem destined to be a Peter Murphy classic. It’s not only one of the best tracks on the entire album but it also stands out as one of the best tracks of Murphy’s entire career. It’s got that signature Goth quality, a spine-tingly chorus and rapturous vocals. “I’m On Your Side” is the epic, sweeping ballad of the bunch—beautiful and serene, with lush vocals. Another moment of vulnerability and emotion comes from “Locataine.” A stirring, but smaller scale ballad where Murphy’s haunting vocals take center stage.
“Ghosts of Shokan Lake” is an odd and trippy little number that sounds like something Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance might’ve done. It contains cryptic lyrics combined with Murphy’s harmonized vocals which make an interesting contrast—one layer wails while the other murmurs in a deep baritone and it ends with a crescendo of strange chanting and wailing. It’s a bizarre number, but you can’t help but hit the “repeat” button.
Taken as a whole, there’s really little or nothing bad to say about Lion. All the tracks are well thought out and nothing seems like it’s there as filler. It’s a surprising and invigorating effort and it’s nice to see Peter stretch himself a bit. Lion is certainly king of its own dark and sublime, concrete industrial jungle. It roars strong and, at times, purrs in all the right places.
DOWNLOAD: “Hang Up,” “Eliza,” Low Tar Stars,” “I’m On Your Side,” “Holy Clown” “Ghosts of Shokan Lake,” “Locataine.”