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David Cronenberg's Wife - Bluebeard's Rooms

David Cronenberg's Wife, Bluebeard's Rooms

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

DAVID Cronenberg’s Wife specialise in dark urban tales that are soundtracked by post-punk surf-psych guitars. But while there’s certainly a leftfield charm to some of their songwriting, debut album Bluebeard’s Rooms isn’t entirely successful.

Lead singer and guitarist Tom Mayne’s vocals occasionally sound drab and droning and can carry the songs into utterly downbeat territory that matches the sound of his dissatisfaction at times, especially when the guitars are more brooding than inspiring.

Hence, song like Where Is Lucy Leveugle and Harry The Morgue (admittedly, the clue is in the title!) are a little too heavy going and support the claim that indie and post-punk songwriters are nothing but depressing.

Harry The Morgue, in particular, is rife with repugnant imagery, such as “a vaginal swab on a murder-rape victim” and a “baby suffocated by a crazy nurse on children’s ward”.

There is a keen sense of imagination, but it’s mostly dark, occasionally depraved and really rather wearying by the time you reach that point on the album.

At their best, DCW (for short) keep the instrumentation lively, to offset the darker elements of the songwriting. Hence, the guitar riffs on album opener Runaway Pram sound as though they’re auditioning for a 007 movie and are quite funky before the organs hit a proper punk stride, while I Do Know is an oddly appealing anti-love song that smacks of arrogance with lyrics like “would you forgive me no matter what I do, even if it made you physically sick?”

There’s even a guilty pleasure surrounding the harsh, pissed off lyrics on My Best Friend’s Going Out With A Girl I Like, which contains an upbeat vibe and some amusing lyrics such as “should I give him crank mobile phone calls” and “should I knee him in his empty balls”.

Such moments certainly make David Cronenberg’s Wife a novelty act worth listening to, and even a band you can laugh at in terms of their protagonists’ misfortunes – but once they drop the lighter riffs and get a little more serious, the album takes a much more ponderous direction.

And you may even dislike yourself for laughing along earlier. Needless to say, it left me feeling decidedly mixed, even after three or four really hard listens.

Download picks: Runaway Pram, I Do Know, My Best Friend’s Going Out With A Girl I Like, Pale Skinned Girl

Track listing:

  1. Runaway Pram
  2. Coming To Your Hometown
  3. I Do Know
  4. I Couldn’t Get Off
  5. Jonny Bentham’s Dilemna
  6. Pale Skinned Girl
  7. My Best Friend’s Going Out With A Girl I Like
  8. Neighbourhood Knows
  9. Where Is Lucy Leveugle
  10. Harry The Morgue
  11. I’m On The Booze Mama