Recorded in the same sessions as their Pink Album, Unloved’s fast follow-up, Polychrome, throws a bit of a curveball with its opening, title, track. A fantastic combination of funky drumming and cosmic jazz choir, it seems to draw equally on Sun Ra and Janko Nilovic. Strutting its significant stuff somewhere between the mighty Sault and the very talented Vanishing Twin. Thrill Me is similarly out there. Like a dark drum circle moment in a David Lynch movie. Strange, spiraling, stop / starting, wicked, wild at heart voodoo. The single, I Did It, is the sort of plugged-in rock ’n’ roll that the band really excel at. With a swagger that’s all analogue and modular synths, switchblades and black leather.
The rest of the set consists of doomed broken ballads, that to my ears share something with Nick Cave, and the melodrama of Scott Walker. Perhaps it’s in singer Jade Vincent’s ability to pull on characters. Invent and inhabit unspoken back stories for the course of each song. Adding a scary conviction to the lyrics of heartbreak, longing, and obsession. The question, “Why does love hurt so much?” Her delivery often that of a dusted Dusty Springfield.
The music is Unloved’s now characteristic wall of sound. Part Phil Spector, part Joe Meek, part Brian & Dennis Wilson, and American Spring, plus the more strung out sections of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica. Numbers starting fragile and whispered, before exploding in orchestral fireworks. Bells toll and scaffold snares roll, and throughout there’s a strong sense of faded, jaded, but still decadent glamour. As if summoning the ghosts of West Hollywood’s Garden Of Allah Hotel.* The celebrities of the 1930s and `40s who partied far too hard to the east of The Sunset Strip. Constructing a score for a haunted dancehall. A busted burlesque at the end of the world.
Unloved’s Polychrome will be released on February 24th, care of Heavenly Recordings.
*Home to Tallulah Bankhead, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Greta Garbo, Ernest Hemmingway, The Marx Brothers, Serge Rachmaninov….the list goes on and on… until it was torn down in the late `50s to make way for a branch of Lytton Savings & Loan.