The recently reconstituted Crime and the City Solution first entered into the consciousness of "alternative" rock fans in the 1980s, around the same time as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and, perhaps because of the scene-stealing personal habits of ex-Birthday Party vocalist Mr. Cave more than anything musical, often suffered in comparison.
Also confusing matters was the fact that the two outfits shared some personnel. Cave's musical main man at the time, Mick Harvey, toiled in both groups, and to confuse things a bit more, Crime and the City Solution also featured former Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard (R.I.P.) on its underground classic Room of Lights (1986) album.
Both C&TCS and the Bad Seeds hailed from Australia originally, and both shared a certain affinity for what I've called "spaghetti goth"—gloomy musical atmospheres suffused by a love for Baudelaire and for the blues, as well as for the film soundtracks of Ennio Morricone. Though former junkie-goth icon Cave has gone on to be feted by middle class society as a Leonard Cohen-type bard, it is C&TCS that has arguably produced the better music overall.
That fact must gall Simon Bonney, the Jim Morrison-esque singer who has manned the helm through all incarnations of C&TCS. This new release highlights the post-Howard period of the band, when it shifted from a "The Doors on heroin instead of acid" feel toward something more sweeping and epic.
Songs from it like "All Must Be Love" are permeated by a sense of romantic fatalism, while "Hunter" rocks hard and sways heavy as Bonney warns, "If you can't do the time / Don't do the crime."
The ethereal "On Every Train (Grain Will Bear Grain)" could have been a hit single in a better world, as Bonney, against all odds, stubbornly holds on to the artistic (superior?) world he's created with his art within a crassly commercial society: "I will always be in love with that idea," he croons, "the thought is a treasure through all time."
The brooding "Home Is Far From Here" evokes a dark sense of longing, with Bonney and crew (including wife Bronwyn Adams on violin) as the weary vagabond artists who can never quite feel at home wherever in the world they may be.