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- Nightly Wreaths by Horrid Red
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I’m a great advocate of everything Teenage Panzerkorps/Horrid Red-related...there’s something about their brand of muffled Ameri-Deutsch post-punk that never fails to strike a chord with me. We even made their last album ‘Celestial Joy’ our album of the week a few months back! On this latest album Bunker Wolf and Edmund Xavier have been joined by Clay Ruby, better known as Burial Hex, to provide a little more atmospheric depth to their grimly plodding kraut-synthpop incantations. Kind of like when Deathprod joined Motorpsycho for a while I guess.
This album starts with a graceful drone which gives way to a heartstring-tugging soundtracky piano line under which some soft industrial ambience grates away before ‘Heavy Night of Eyes’ quickly makes evident the strides they’ve made in their bedroom sound, as what was once lo-fi and rough around the edges now has a silky lightness of touch and is beautifully recorded. There’s more live bass and guitar than the previous album, too, which also fleshes out the sound into an elegiac, nostalgic pop drift with weary German-language vocals (much less aggressive than on their previous offerings, still with the slightly Mark E Smith-esque talky delivery but sometimes descending to little more than a deep, husky growl) and graceful melodies, taking them far closer to the dewy-eyed ‘80s romantics like The Cure or the Pet Shop Boys than we’ve heard previously.All the extra polish and sadder, sultrier songs don’t dilute the effect one bit, though. I’m as instantly taken by this album as I was the last. It’s like Ruby was the missing piece of the puzzle, dragging their awkward lo-fi pop gracefully into the same territory as synth heavy-hitters like Laurel Halo and Oneohtrix Point Never without compromising their louche, hard aesthetic. ‘Celestial Joy’ was a tough act to follow but I think with ‘Nightly Wreaths’ they’ve actually gone and made something even better! Remarkable.
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