The Bordellos - Debt Sounds (Small Bear Records)
CD / DL
7 / 10
Review by Mikey.
I feel like I have been warped back to 1983. I'm in my Nan's backroom with my cousin listening to music and waiting to see what he thinks about the new album I've just played him on my shonky old tape player. I feel a bit sick.
It's not the lo-fi nature of Debt Sounds that makes me feel like this or the fact that they are churning out music that is dated and tired. This collection of songs is an outpouring of grief and angst,of collapsed relationships and the fear of being alone. I feel like it's 1983 because it is raw, I am along with them for the ride on this one and I'm not sure I should be.
I was hooked from the first buzz of Fading Honey, a melancholic and heart breaking start to an album that was recorded over 10 Friday nights. Spirograph is up next and you slowly begin to get pulled down into The Bordellos crazy paved lane. The third track You Better Run unlocks Dan Shea's haunting keyboard style and has you throwing your rucksack into the back of their van. If you're not going with them now,you never will be.
Dead Friend Don't Leave Me Hanging has a steadiness and clipped anger. Their honesty is refreshing,their content is at times difficult to listen to. But there is something in here that I found myself going back to over the last week. I simply had to know what was going to happen next.It's almost like being out with a troubled,drunken friend. You know that you have to be there to help him and you know it's going to be a messy one. But, you can't leave him alone. What if he slips into the canal? What if he falls asleep in the petrol station forecourt again? So you bite the bullet and get another round in.
I needed New York Girl to go the way it did, with The Bordellos pushing and pushing me towards the edge through disconcerting guitars and half whispered lyrics. There is a dark perfection in this song that defines the whole journey. I can picture New York Girl,uncomfortable and fidgeting by a table of empty cans and bowls of soft crisps in the studio, silently wishing that she hadn't come round tonight.
Fine is a bleak and shining light,trying to prop us up and assure us that things will really be okay.I'm not so sure. Now you are struggling to carry that now, very drunk and troubled friend,home. But he is too heavy and you end up rolling him under a hedge. He'll probably be....fine.
The Bordellos have thrown themselves to the lions on this one. It is startling in it's honesty and unwaveringly sharp in it's commentaries on their now disintegrated relationships. It is a crushingly sad record. A record made for humans by humans.
In an age where we hide our true feeling behind fake social media posts and bury ourselves beneath piles of unwanted tat, The Bordellos have created a soaring and searing album that you should listen to,even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. You should listen and be glad of the fact that there are bands like this around and that they are brave enough to bare themselves and make an album like Debt Sounds.