Midnight of the Century
Too young to be fully cognizant of the more embarrassing excesses of gothic music over the past twenty years, the young Turks of Blacklist are, perhaps unwittingly, the best hope of redeeming that sound from the likes of Marilyn Manson and countless dodgy industrial bands. More than Editors. More then White Lies. More than Interpol. (Who dey?) And how do they do it? By going back to the time (in the mid ’80s) when the nascent goth movement was more about scraping the very ceiling of heaven than soundtracking some basement roleplaying game. It’s all in the scope, the ambition, the endless horizon. Blacklist sound unashamedly like the best of the best — the Chameleons, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Mission UK, Bolshoi, Joy Division, and Sisters of Mercy — but not weighed down by history. They lunge forward from the first note, straining and mad-eyed from the rat-tat-tat conviction in every note. Every Ed Buller-produced note, that is; somehow they got the man behind London Suede’s greatest moment, the sprawling, feverish, effortlessly romantic Dog Man Star, to help shape their sound and it’s a natural fit. There’s dirt under their nails and an air of unpredictable danger around the shadowy, out of focus photos.
Vocals are redolent of a young Peter Murphy, full of portent and ageless baritone authority. The rhythm section is clockwork elegance morphing into tank-like bruising power, grinding bass and staccato punch drums when the guitars drop out of the mix, leaving silence as the hidden collaborator. The guitars are a wonderful travelogue through postpunk’s highs — John McGeoch, Stuart Adamson, the Edge, Daniel Ash all get a nod within — shifting from bruising glam rawness, to soaring, bell-like chimes, London fog harmonics, creeping menace and ghostly ambience. Each song is weighed down with an unshakeable sense of doomed romance and self-belief that make every moment seem so sad but yet so laden with potential, you’ll swoon.
Lyrics are hazy and Beckett-ian — you can’t make out the whole picture, but vivid images of death, heartache and long, lonely nights linger like a cough you can’t shake. Each song boasts a killer chorus — go no further than “Flight of the Demoiselle’s” charging, almost U2-esque cries of triumph. And that’s just the beginning! There’s not a bum note here. They’ve got that formula down that you wish other bands would clue in on. If you’ve lost your faith in guitar music, pick up Midnight of the Century. This moment is theirs.