The Membranes release the heaviest album of the year so far. Not heavy in the way of an Iron Maiden (obviously) but heavy as in dense physical mass as it lurches from the shade into the light and back again like a beast that’s bee in the wilderness for decades and then suddenly it wanders into the metropolis as the opener will testify covering everything about this record in one track.
The title track is Robbs punchy throbbing bass line right front and center in the mix is a heaving throwback to the days when Joy Division was kicking up dust over the Northwest. These aren’t rounded soft and pleasant noises the band is throwing out there. ‘A Murder Of Crows’ is like the bastard child of Bow Wow Wow as the song jerks and leers towards the listener in an uncomfortable noise yet its compelling enough to keep you listening. Like some sort of musical cooperative if you want in just turn up and shake a tambourine or blow a horn I’m sure there’s someone hitting a kitchen sink in there somewhere along with throwing a piano down a flight of stairs.
There has to be a Bauhaus influence in there as ‘Black Is The Colour’ about the dark epicenter of winter bloody well sounds it. Not what you might call TOTP material for a single unless its the post-apocalypse TOTP with a chaotic reverb emanating of Robbs jagged bass line it’s uncomfortable yet listenable and they’ve got the levels spot on.
this double album is an ambitious project and it’s often dark yet alluring uninviting and cold yet warm at the same time one thing it is for sure and that’s epic. If you’re trying to take it in in one sitting then strap yourself in it might be a bumpy ride just listening to the Janes Addiction sounding chaos of ‘The 21 St Century Is Killing Me’ from its choir on the chorus to the juddering riff its a whole load of epic in one track. the final track ‘Pandoras Box’ is like a headfuck with Choirs, strings, thumping bass, Dead Kennedy’s riff, at times it sounds like a lost Stranglers track and others it sounds like a gift from above its exhausting listening but in a good way.
Another feature of this record is the guest list Kirk Brandon (Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny) and 84-year-old folk singer Shirley Collins. TV presenter Chris Packham also contributes to ‘Winter’, also Jordan turns up, yes she of the Kings Road and a woman who practically invented the punk Rock shock look in 1975. Half the tracks also feature the 20-piece Choir. So you can’t fault the band for trying to include the Jewson lot into this record besides it doesn’t always work but what the hell they’re trying and that’s a strength. when it works its a beautiful thing I can’t tell you where it works that’s for you to decide but I would suggest you at least give this a try you never know it might reel you in.
The band must have driven themselves half round the bend recording this but I bet once they had the record in their hands and dropped the needle in that first groove they’ll feel it was all most definitely worth it.
Buy What Nature Give Here
Author: Dom Daley
As of today, ‘What Nature Gives … Nature Takes Away’ will be available on vinyl and CD, and digitally from stores such as iTunes and streaming platforms. There is also a deluxe double vinyl ultra limited edition of 150 copies.
This summer, cosmetics company Lush will also release a Membranes perfume called ‘A Strange Perfume’ after the album’s opening track. I bet you weren’t expecting that were you?