Bauhaus, like Bela Lugosi, is truly dead and has been for quite a while. Yes, they did reunite in 2008 and make an album, but it really didn’t measure up to their seminal releases (aside from the superior production values). The two main personalities behind Bauhaus, Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash, have had more success over the years as members of other groups and as solo artists anyway (Daniel Ash lead Love and Rockets and Murphy has had a prolific solo career). In fact, there are more Peter Murphy solo albums that there are proper Bauhaus albums. Nevertheless, Murphy will forever be remembered and regarded as the former lead singer of Bauhaus, outside of hardcore goth fans, since he never really had the type of mainstream success that Ash had. That’s a real shame because Murphy has put out some high quality albums over the years. For his 10th album, Murphy teamed up with Killing Joke bassist Martin “Youth” Glover, and the result is a different from, yet strangely familiar to, his previous solo work.
With Youth manipulating the bass, keyboards, and guitars on the album, as well as producing and mixing, the rhythms on the album are front and center. Monstrous throbbings and thumpings dominate nearly every song here from the excellently hard rocking opening track “Hang Up” to the somewhat meandering ballad “I’m On Your Side.” Unfortunately, the album seems to meander a little too much. There are too many tracks that not only meander, but commit the worst sin of all (outside of electronic music that is): become repetitive. “The Ghost of Shokan Lake” and “The Rose” do establish some oppressively compressive atmosphere, but rely too much on Youth’s repetitiveness of bass and synth. Ironically, and speaking of compressive atmospheres, “Compression,” a just a bit too long moderate rocker dropped in the middle of the album, actually manages to thrive and soar on Youth’s beats and guitars that mix with Murphy’s soaring vocals. It’s a dense track that brings to mind more than just a passing sonic resemblance to Bowie, as well as the Murphy of yesteryear (I always though Murphy and Bowie had more in common vocally than many gave Murphy credit for).
Murphy and Youth actually create the most inspiring music when they are rocking out as hard as the two are willing to. “Holy Clown”provides some much needed goth ROCK on the album. Seemingly denouncing the whole hero-goth worship thing that has dogged Murphy most of his days since the late 70s, while metaphorically denouncing many “holy clowns” at the same time, whatever their genre, Murphy delivers some of the most inspired vocals on the album while Youth lets the guitars surface without quicky dousing them in oppressive beats and grooves.
The rest of the album has its merits, but again, blotting beats and bass bounce dominate, so sometimes the atmosphere is stifling, even for a dude who hung upside down like a bat during a Bauhaus reunion at Coachella. Murphy’s vocals have rarely sounded as earnest and impassioned as the do here though, and for that reason alone Lion is a worthy listen, and a worthy addition to the Peter Murphy catalog.
http://www.petermurphy.info/ (tour info)