Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Way of Life, Why Be Blue?

Five albums in 28 years is not a very impressive record. To put it into perspective, it’s about 397 albums less than the Fall have released in a similar period. But that’s all that Suicide managed so far, and this could well be one of the main motivating reasons for the re-release of their rather modest back catalogue over the past few years.

Suicide’s third album, ‘A Way Of Life’, was first released in 1988, shortly after the duo reformed following an absence that spanned the majority of the 80s. Nowhere near as harsh or abrasive as its predecessors, it’s a still a fairly unforgiving album, full of repetitive dirges, atonal droning and spasticated rhythms, though lacking the strangulated screams that had made their 1977 debut album so hard to listen to on a regular basis.

Essentially, this is the sound of Suicide with the drama and aggression turned down. ‘Jukebox Baby ‘96’ sees vocalist Alan Vega overdoing the Elvis sneer and murmur in a manner that Billy Idol would pee his pants to mimic. ‘Surrender’ seems to be set to the tune of A=ha’s ‘Manhattan Skyline’ and is, bizarrely, the closest thing that you’ll find to a Suicide ballad, and if ARE Weapons ever take to covering the Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘Honey’s Dead’ album, it would sound just like ‘Rain Of Ruin’.

‘Why Be Blue?’, originally released in 1992, is the more focussed, and therefore better, of the two albums, powered by heavy staccato beats and doom-laden electro-pulses that veer between the Fall’s experiments with electronic music, Cabaret Voltaire and the an abstract take on the clipped pop of the Pet Shop Boys.

While ‘A Way Of Life’ sounds a bit too much like a collection of ideas gathered together for posterity, Suicide’s fourth album appears to have been recorded with a more carefully thought out vision in mind, meaning that ‘Why Be Blue?’ makes for a more comfortable listen than your average Suicide album.

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