Revolver – [Album]

Tuesday, 03 August 2010

Former British Prime Minister and novelist Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius.” The statement is a little ironic in his case, given some of the strained political relationships he created during his time in office, and it's surprisingly heated given that Disraeli wrote tepid romance novels when he wasn't sitting at the head of an imposing political body. Even so, the words and wisdom endure, and ma have been picked up by a few receptive minds – as Revolver's debut full-length, Music For A While, implies.

On their first run through the long-player format, Revolver doesn't exactly aim to shock or depress listeners (although some will likely be shocked or depressed if they're only listening passively) so much as seem to articulate the different extremes and dynamics that the onset of depression can lead an individual to; there are languid and introspective discussions about the evaporation of love from a relationship (“Birds In Dm”) and celebrations of sadness like “Leave Me Alone” and “Balulalow” that want to shake singer Ambroise Willaume out of his self-imposed, muted, Lou Reed-ian funk. In either case however, Willaume is either unwilling or unable to shake his blues away, which leaves this album in an interesting conundrum that listeners will have no choice but to try and figure out for themselves. It's complicated and an almost Brechtian-by-way-of-Birthday Party listen (well, Birthday Party might be too severe, but certainly Nick Cave), but as long as listeners have a will to be weird, Music For A While can be a wholly unique and thoroughly enjoyable listen.

At the outset, Revolver starts on a way-far-down note with “Birds In Dm” which finds Willaume still in shock from a failed relationship (“so many times I tried to hear what you were trying to say”) and so recounting some choice moments that leap to mind (“in my mind, gun to your head”) and generally feeling the disconnection that comes with a broken heart, an empty home and the knowledge that “she's gone.” Violins saw hard here for a bit of unhinged pathetic fallacy and set both the point of the record, as well as the guiding hook.

While the mood doesn't much improve from there, the timbres and tempos do, if only to add a bit of faux Southern Gothic and vaudevillian shadow to the record.

Beginning with “Balulalow,” Revolver earnestly starts throwing everything the band can think of at the wall – but not to see what sticks, rather to paint it all dark. The group fades, darkens and fatigues everything it touches; rockabilly becomes ironically tinged and sardonic through “Balulalow” and “Untitled 1,” a tango becomes a Spanish death dance in “Do You Have A Gun?” amd the sort of country & western vibe that “Luke, Mike and John” might have started becomes a surreal and lost lament – as just a couple of examples. The right kind of minds will thrill to the image of everything turning withered and gray as the band walks by, and those are the ones that will best benefit from Music For A While; while the beauty of these songs may have been deliberately faded by the band for this presentation, they are still beautiful – even comical and uplifting in their own way. Certainly, those that don't get it simply will not get it under any circumstances, but those who do will revere this strange little trio because, unlike so many other bands that play “goth” as “gloomy,” “angry” or “psychologically damaged,” Revolver plays it as the term was originally intended; both the band and the album are 'gothic' in that there is a meticulous attention to detail paid by the band to their performance, with an emphasis placed on introspection that is often mistaken for depression. Music For A While is a great and very clear look at an idea that has so often been maligned that it's questionable if even true fans of the music will understand – but those who do will have something to treasure in this album.



Revolver – “Get Around Town – Music For A While
Revolver – “Birds In Dm (Joakim remix)” – Music For A While


Music For A While
is out today on Astralwerks/EMI. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.