I must admit, I haven’t wrapped my ears around any of The 69 Eyes’ work since about 2004, when they released the album Devils, and then Angels in 2007. The Lost Boys is still my fave track (homage to the 1987 Kiefer Sutherland vampire flick). Universal Monsters is their 11th studio effort. The Helsinki, Finland based band is generally considered to have a goth rock style, which their fans term as ‘goth ‘n’ roll’. I must say, the last decade doesn’t appear to have been too gentle with them, going by the latest promo pics – wowsers, they have aged! Maybe they’ve been living the rock star lifestyle a little too full on. They used to look relatively young and pretty…..
The opening track, Dolce Vita has a great rock beat and riffs right from the start and sounds just like I remember these guys. My 80’s love of the Sisters of Mercy must be why I liked this band – Jyrki 69’s voice has that deep, dark Andrew Eldritch tone. It’s also reminiscent of Ville Valo from HIM, and Peter Steele of Type O Negative. I could do without the slightly silly lyrics ‘Good morning Rome, good night Bangkok’ – not quite sure why a city in Thailand is relevant to a song full of Italian phrases.
The second track is actually the first single to be released from the album. Jet Fighter Plane has catchy riffs and is a pretty enjoyable listen. The song doesn’t seem to really lift to greater heights until about ¾ of the way through, when Jyrki 69’s vocals actually get a bit of grunt behind them and we get a pretty good guitar solo, which then seems to fade out again all too soon.
Blackbird Pie starts out quietly and builds to a solid sounding rock/metal groove, which is really promising. Then we get lyrics based from Four and Twenty Blackbirds! Wha? These lyrics just made the song very silly indeed – it’s actually spoiled my listening pleasure of the actual music. I think these guys may need to retake their goth lyrics writing class…
Miss Pastis is a really catchy rocking song with some good riffs. Wait! Is that an accordion (or at least a keyboard version of one)?? Ooh, not too sure about that. Maybe they figured we wouldn’t quite pick up on the French connection (pun intended) by referring to pastis, and repeatedly singing ‘salut, ça va’ (pretty much French for ‘hey, how you doin’?’). I kinda forgive them, because you do find yourself singing along after a while. Another too short guitar solo – let Bazie and Timo-Timo have a decent crack!
This album isn’t breaking any new ground, but if you’re a fan, you’ll know what you’re getting and should enjoy it. Overall I found the album pretty enjoyable and have given it a run through a few times, but it doesn’t constantly grab my attention and ends up as background music. If they hardened it up a bit, it’d work much better – but maybe they have mellowed a bit over the years. I reckon most of this album would improve a lot when played live.
Universal Monsters is officially released on 22 April.