Supported by an earnest bass meandering through synthesized landscapes, Lucinda King’s vocals are perhaps the most human aspect of Death and the Maiden’s self-titled debut. The melancholy guitars and hot-on-your-tail drums contrast splendidly with her emotional singing, making the album an intense experience.
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Presumably taking their name from the Verlaines song of the same title (which took its name from an Egon Shiele painting), Death and the Maiden eschew the usual New Zealand wiry jangle pop for a dark vocal led kind of electronica that recalls the likes of Zola Jesus . It’s a gothy brew full of the Cure/Joy Division-like bass lines, minimal synth early 80’s darktronica topped off with breathy vocals.
There are a lot of people doing this kind of stuff at the moment and it’s hard to see why Death and the Maiden’s record should be bought over many others. It does nail that dreamy 80’s sound but sometimes lacks an oomph that could be brought by a full band and a human drummer. There are some bright moments including the breezy and tuneful ‘Civilisation’ where its amalgamation of Peter Hook-ish trebly guitar lines and fizzing synths . The closing ‘Bioluminescence’ has skittery electronic beats which recalls Scots Conquering Animal Sound the track building nicely with slabs of sound and slices of vocals being layered on impressively. It’s gloomy throughout but if you allow yourself to sink into their monochrome world there is plenty to enjoy.
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