Denizens of Denver Weathered Statues are pretty good. Opting to produce the sort of music known as ‘post-punk’ in 2018 can be a tricky task; the Gods of the genre, long since pomped out but in some cases still extant, pretty much wrote all the good stuff back in the eighties. Indeed whenever I hear a ‘new’ band claiming some sort of post-punk lineage these days they either sound like a too-heavy mix of Killing Joke and Paradise Lost or an arch, overly coiffured dip into the world of Joy Division or The Cure. All fur coat and no knickers, as my dear old grandma would have said.
So whilst Weathered Statues could definitely be bracketed in that second pigeonhole – prevalent, Severin-meets-Hook bass, glacial guitar sounds, rudimentery drum patterns – they have an intriguing point of difference in the excellent vocals of Jennie Mather.
Thankfully Mather opts not for some sort of strangled Mockney approximation in the name of ‘authenticity’; her voice is nearly one hundred percent her own, and totally one hundred per cent beguiling. At her most declamatory she can occasionally give the impression that Jefferson Airplane-era Grace Slick might be an influence, but for the most part she deals out a pleasingly original vocal style that makes songs like Corpse Candle and Heather a pleasure to listen to. On the more frantic material – The Widow Sunday springs to mind – X-Ray Spex chanteuse Poly Styrene also makes a fleeting appearance. But not in a bad way.
Hypnagogia is perhaps the only time the music tips over into complete Brit-worship. However the band execute so well that the resultant Cocteau Twins jamming with Joy Division maelstrom is possibly the strongest track on the album.
Most surprising is the mashup of Dead Kennedys and Southern Death Cult that opens The Silver Cliff; the band certainly pick which influences to wear well, and fans of this style of music who’ve been around since it was vaguely cool to drink white cider and smoke rollups in Bus Stations won’t fail to smile at the memories each song on the album prompts.
Cure fans will be pleased to know that Lol Tolhurst had a hand in remixing the afore-mentioned Corpse Candle, but, despite all the retro-name dropping I’ve indulged in this review it’s important to emphasise that Borderlands isn’t merely an exercise in digging up the past. If you’ve never heard of any of the bands I’ve mentioned there’s still plenty to enjoy here – good music is good music whatever the year, and this is some of the best of its kind I’ve heard in a while.
Borderlands is out now on Svart Records.