Naming your group after one of the most influential albums of the last 40 years is a pretty gutsy move. Although The Gilded Palace Of Sin’s moniker comes from the Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut album, the music shares very little with the genre that record birthed. What the two bands do share is a fascination with the fabled darkness of an America that exists on the fringes of respectable society.
The fact that an English band has been able to absorb our Wild West mythologies so completely, and reenact them so convincingly should not be surprising. Gram Parsons old buddy Keith Richards has been doing it with the blues since his teens. But in the climate of 2010, where the 1990s seem to be ancient history, You Break Our Hearts, We’ll Tear Yours Out is revelatory.
“The weight of my soul’s a heavy burden on my shoulders, the river Jordan is too wide…”
This line is from one of the most powerful songs on the record, “Rubbing Up.” You have to hear the song to really feel the impact though, the minimalism of the music plus the repeated, near-hypnotic chant is crushing.
The very next track “There Is No Evil, There Is No Good,” is another one that commands your attention. The song is an exercise in less is more, with only an insistently strummed guitar and drums, some glorious sound effects, and a very murky lyric to hold the listener in place. It is a song that is simply mesmerizing.
The most musically inventive track on You Break Our Hearts is “Vony & The Plynths.” What is it that the British have about plynths? It seems like every band worth their salt has to write a song about them. The one The Gilded Palace Of Sin have come up with is pretty wild. Musically it is unlike most everything else on the record, near industrial-strength beats coupled with some great melodic interludes.
Nobody has encapsulated the British vision of a fabled America better than Chris Rea with his amazing The Road To Hell (1989). The latter part of You Break Our Hearts evokes the same sentiment. “Bones Of The Saints,” “Wedding Rice,” and especially the closing tune, “Home Because Your Here” all reflect that peculiar English vision of an America that never really existed.
The phrase “gilded palace of sin” is so elegant that you hardly even realize you are talking about a whorehouse. The British trio who have taken the term as their name know exactly what they are talking about. You Break Our Hearts, We’ll Tear Yours Out is as sleazy, and as unapologetically romantic as any excursion on the Gold Coast can ever be. It is also one of the most striking debuts I have heard in years.