Dark passions, personal grief and the rise of right-wing populism provide the fuel for Black Bright, the new release by goth/post-punk rockers London Plane.
The follow up to 2018’s New York Howl sees the six-piece traversing some very black territory, leavened by sardonic humour and sparkling musical arrangements.
Led by vocalist and guitarist David Mosey – a kind of amalgam of Iggy Pop, Lux Interior and The Psychedelic Furs‘ Richard Butler – this six-piece collective of Big Apple veterans certainly knows how to play.
For much of the album, Mosey’s guttural baritone underpins co-singer Jessica Cole‘s cut glass, soaring pipes – think Andrew Eldritch and Patricia Morrison in The Sisters of Mercy.
It’s a ploy that works well, adding an air of unease and tension, which contrasts with the slick musical arrangements.
The guitar-playing by Mosey and Kristofer Widholm is uniformly excellent – angular and spiky one minute, polished and funky the next.
The production too, is well thought out and pristine, though perhaps a little too smooth for these ears.
Indeed there’s a sheen to many of these songs which can make them seem a bit cold and impenetrable – though that may well be the intended effect.
There are familar gothic tropes – ghosts, devils and the like – but plenty of surprises too.
The Bowie-esque Watch That Madman Go takes a pop at the rise of Trump and his ilk, while the title-track is an anti-war song with a difference.
There’s high-concept sci-fi on Homocosmos – the name of the next step in evolution, when humans reach out to unknown worlds.
While The Wish with its lovely Morricone-like spaghetti-Western chord progression, has lyrics which could have been witten by Terry Pratchett: ‘Once there was a haunted hell/spinning on a tortoise shell’.
Best of all though is the wonderful Electric Clock. which sees the band at its most unhinged.
A full on cabaret show tune, it sounds like Peek-A-Boo by the Banshees, crossed with The New York Dolls, with a bit of Sally Bowles thrown in for good measure.
Much more of this kind of weirdness and London Plane’s next musical offering should make for a very intriguing prospect.