Not having heard any Human Drama albums and being a complete stranger to Johnny Indovina, I was able to experience his new band Sound Of The Blue Heart's first album Beauty? without any preconceived notions.
The first track, "The Great Escape", shows off Indovina's strange spoken-whispered vocals and gift for song-writing. While not masterpieces, his songs have a wistful, haunting, bare quality on lyrics like:
It's the great escape / and is it any wonder / it's the same mistake / that kept him under / and how many more storms will he bring? / there are so many ways to tarnish a beautiful thing
Because of his similar vocal qualities and song writing, Indovina can sound at points startlingly reminiscent of David Bowie. That is, if Bowie's music had a bit more of a gothic and indie-rock slant. And while the songs presented are of a gothic tone, the music isn't all shadows and misery. After all, no one really wants an album of unabated melancholy. The song "River of Love" reflects a more positive outlook, at least in tone if not lyrics. The chorus on the title-song "Beauty?" is even strangely uplifting.
Most of the album is fairly low-key and quiet with occasional cinematic flourishes appear in the chorus lines of songs like "River of Love." Indovina seems pretty somber throughout the album with his loudest moment occurring on the chorus of "Mad, Mad World." This mostly works to the CD's favor by complementing it's stripped down production.
Another one of Indovina's influences appears to be Morrissey, the British pop singer. The track "In An Empty Heart" and "Love and It's Sorrow" is similar to material on Morrissey's You Are the Quarry album ("Let Me Kiss You" in particular).
Listeners looking for more upbeat songs may need to take Beauty in small doses or song-by-song, but it's hard to think that anyone would be turned-off completely by this album. There's seemingly enough musical influences (Soul/R&B, Glam, Indie rock, and Gothic) to at least capture most people's attention, and deservingly so.
Beauty skates a fine line between post-punk gloom and classic rock with Johnny’s low-key voice lending a David Bowie vibe to the mix. Occasionally too heavy handed or downbeat for it's own good, it’s nevertheless quite intriguing and certainly worth owning.