I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for this LP to land and after living with it for a couple of weeks, the jury’s in absolutely no doubt this is my LP of the year so far. No mention of past influences, this is Suzie Stapleton finding her own identity, I’ve watched her develop over the last few years, both live and on record and this is so far from the singer I saw in Camden that it’s unreal. I couldn’t on that day believe the sound that was created in an acoustic setting and the fragility and in equal amounts intensity that I witnessed within that performance are resident in Spades here.
The Stark Nihilism presented, really is a thing of Beauty an aural assault on the senses that leaves you breathless, stunned and with an all-together different mindset, this is the impact that really good music should always have on the listener.
As we weave our way through the opener “We are the plague” you really take on board the significance of the vocal message, the dark history attached and the bleak landscape of a potential future. The eastern influence within the guitar- work , first looks to and then draws us into almost Eastern Meandering, full of esoteric imagery but underpinning the journey is a vocal line that just holds you mesmerized.
The feral guitar that sears its way through “Thylacine” (the single that was released to raise funds for the Australian Bush fire support) really hits you full on and before you know it you’re into “Blood on the windscreen” another of the singles, this has a great Rock and Roll feel, not as intense as the openers but way above what’s come out so far this year in any genre. As “September” weaves its way forward you’re drawn into the story unfolding, a storyboard of images moving from verse to verse. Pausing to draw breath, the reality is that this LP is a little bit special, and the distance traveled since Obladi Diablo is huge.
As you listen through next up ‘The river song” the, to me, native American imagery and soundscape, provides a great intro to what is probably my favourite track on the LP “Angel Speak”, fragile, intense, in turns, weaving a portrait full of imagery.
“You were there” with its almost somber tones, part accusatory, part accepting holds you in its grasp, with no easing until it’s done. I think for myself, looking back at this album, what really grips you is the vivid imagery conjured up, each story or vignette having a life and feel all of its own. “In the Darkness” and “Silence in my bones” take you in all sorts of directions, before we’re finished off with ‘Negative Prophet” and if you look back at the video that supported the release with the “Impeach God” that flashes across the screen you realize this is the perfect message for a bleak dystopian future, this is powerful stuff. So what do we have?
Question: Is it the LP of the year so far?
Answer: Absolutely, a thing of real dark beauty.
Author: Nev Brooks