fri 03/12/2021

CD: Vile Electrodes - In the Shadows of Monuments | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Vile Electrodes - In the Shadows of Monuments

CD: Vile Electrodes - In the Shadows of Monuments

Second album from gifted south coast synth-pop duo is ravishingly produced but moody

Captive in grey symmetry: 'In the Shadows of Monuments'

Three years ago a debut album, The Future Through a Lens, by Hastings duo Vile Electrodes, announced the arrival of an A-league synth-pop talent. The pair have since appeared on stages around Europe supporting everyone from Eighties pop heroes Heaven 17 to Krautrock mainstay Manuel Göttsching, but they’ve remained a cult phenomenon, the analogue electro-pop musicians’ analogue electro-pop musicians.

They deserve better for, as their second album shows, Anais Neon and Martin Swan’s ability to craft atmospheric productions with pristine depth and skill has only grown in the interim.

In the Shadows of Monuments, however, is a moodier beast than its predecessor. Where their first album certainly touched on darker, more Gothic EBM flavours, it also owed an equal debt to synth-pop’s 1979-82 chart-dominating golden age. This time round, songs such as the title track mingle Ure-era Ultravox grandeur with the dense gloom of Gazelle Twin, while “Into Great Silence”, with its muted, funereal percussion, even recalls Joy Division. The whole is given pained, human drama by the beautiful melancholic vocals of Neon, who’s developed into an extraordinary singer.

It’s a stunningly produced album but I felt its moroseness needed some kind of musical balance

Lyrics such as “To take a life is so simple/Sleight of hand betrayal and then it’s over” (from “The Red Bead”) abound and, despite the presence of livelier cuts, such as the punchy “Last of the Lovers”, the majority of the songs carry a disconsolate weight. The album comes with a second disc containing alternate versions of songs from the band’s last three EPs, and this includes my two favourite tracks on the whole package, the harsh, acidic techno take on “As Rust Turns to Dust” and the delicious Twin Peaks-meets-Kraftwerk spaceyness of “Captivity in Symmetry”.

Overall, it’s a stunningly produced album but I felt its moroseness needed some kind of musical balance. However, for fans of classic 4AD, of EBM’s more atmospheric phases, perhaps even of Depeche Mode at their most self-lacerating, In the Shadows of Monuments will prove a treat.

Listen to 'In the Shadows of Monuments'


 

The whole is given pained, human drama by the beautiful, melancholic vocals of Neon, who’s developed into an extraordinary singer

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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