If you love Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds like I love Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, then the name Barry Adamson means something to you. A former member of The Bad Seeds, Adamson split off to pursue some of his own endeavors, including Moss Side Story, a soundtrack to a film noir that doesn't exist, and Oedipus Schmoedipus, a spotty but occasionally brilliant collection of songs that included some great guest spots, including Nick Cave and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker.
If any of this means anything to you, you should pick up The Gilded Palace of Sin's You Break Our Hearts, We'll Tear Yours Out. Produced by Adamson, the album is a rocking good time. Adamson's love of film music can be heard influencing the production, especially in the atmospherics of the first track, "For When We Forget," a song whose soundscape has the dreaminess of Explosions in the Sky, and whose sparse lyrics add a sense of nostalgia and unease.
Lest you think the whole album is filled with such light fancy, the third song in, "Mean Old Jack," is a dirty romp that wouldn't be out of place on Nick Cave's Murder Ballads, following the exploits of a Bluebeard-esque murdering rogue. "Vony & the Plynths" is an exceptional, swaggering song about filth and grime and hard living. "Let's all drink diesel and breathe pollution!" growls vocalist Pete Phythian, and he sounds like he means it.
Although the rustic, rootsy feeling of some of the songs have led some to proclaim that this music would be at home on HBO's brilliant Deadwood, it largely reminds me of Alabama 3, another English band who built their music around melding American country rock with electronic pop, who ironically enough performed The Sopranos's theme song "Woke Up this Morning."
The album has a rollicking, free-wheeling spirit. Even on the quieter songs there's a sense of danger. "Let's strap on a bomb and blow ourselves to heaven," coos the chorus of "Bones of the Saints." On "Home Because Your Here," the protagonist sings of the beauty of making a home with your loved one, even if it's in there current location, a city that smells so bad you puke. The song, the last on the album, ends abruptly after one last titular exclamation. You want romance? That's as good as you'll find here.
The band is made up of three multi-faceted music-makers. Band member Michelle Lock, for instance, carries the impressive credit of playing the mandolin, glockenspiel, theremin, and jaw harp. All the members play multiple instruments and collaborate in the songwriting. There's a definite feeling of trust on the album, as it veers off into varying genres and avenues, yet it never feels lost, which is quite an accomplishment.
It can, however, feel unwieldy. If anything, it may be too ambitious. Some songs, even the fantastic "Mean Old Jack," wear out their welcome with overlong running times. It seems strange that "For When We Forget," "Mean Old Jack" and the industrial-sounding "Rubbing Up" are on the same album, yet here they are. It's a testament to the band's strength of vision that the whole thing stays together, but even so it feels like a struggle at times.
But this is a young band, and judging from the superb work on this album I'd place a fare wager that they'll only get stronger. If you like gothic-rock infused with blues and hints of American roots music, get on this band now, there's a good chance one day they'll be your new favorite.