What's old is new again (sorta)

More and more, it appears that the most influential band of the 80s was the Cure. Way back in the 90s, R.E.M. definitely had the edge, but that band's final two decades have dulled its greatness. The Cure still releases an album now and again, but bands today tend to flash back to the spare, "Standing on a Beach" sound.

The Black Ships
Dead Empires
The Black Ships take reverb-laden guitars, keyboards that are both sharp and ringing and that proto-Goth vocal style that Robert Smith always managed to keep from sounding completely whiny. Gothic garage music, if you will.

Add to that base pieces of other new wave heroes (New Order foremost among them) and hints of modern garage rock and laptop pop, and you get a moody-yet-peppy, muscularly ethereal set of songs. This stuff is most definitely drenched in the sound of 1982, but I'm partial to that sort of thing.

The key to that sound is a respect for fluid melody. These are songs, not collections of beats and yelps. I know, that's the old fogey in me coming out, but the Black Ships absolutely harkens back to a time when bands played songs. Today, that can be something of a subversive statement.

We've been romancing the early 80s since I was in college--late in that very decade. The current is getting stronger and stronger, and I can't say I mind a bit. The Black Ships are a welcome addition to the club.

Jon Worley

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