When the seminal Gothic rock band Bauhaus broke up in 1983, the founding members went off in different directions. Frontman Peter Murphy went solo and released three albums: Deep, Holy Smoke and Cascade that, while more melodious, represented a continuation of the dark tradition on which the original band was founded. Numerous singles from those albums went on to become mainstays of gothic-industrial and underground clubs. But it has been 16 years since Cascade, he has relocated to Turkey, and all he has produced musically has been the forgettable Unshattered, Dust; an incongruous probe into Near Eastern mysticism, some greatest hits collections and a reunion album with Bauhaus. Now with Ninth, however, he has at last resurrected the richly vocal, emotionally moving style that renders his supporters delirious with enthusiasm.
The opening track, “I Spit Roses,” has the enigmatic poetry and complex, layered rhythms that characterized all of his best works. “Seesaw Sway” is one of the best cuts on the album and restores Murphy to the top tier of dark rock, utilizing his broad vocal range. All Murphy’s albums have at least one tender-hearted ballad, and on Ninth that would be “Crème de la Crème” which begins with velvety vocals and a simplified one-hand piano accompaniment that surges to a passionate, symphonic crescendo.
“Velocity Bird” is in true rock ’n’ roll style and Murphy’s lyrics pose a poetic riddle of the kind that only he concocts. “Uneven & Brittle” features power chord guitar riffs and menacing vocals, but contains a soft-spoken narrative in its middle. “Peace To Each” sounds like vintage Bauhaus with discordant singing over a driving rhythm.
One of the absolute gems of the album is “The Prince & Old Lady Shade” that will find its place among the best and most beloved songs he has ever sung for its mesmerizing beat, layered arrangement and virtuoso vocals.
“Memory Go” and “Never Fall Out” are fine, listenable and danceable without being standouts on their own merits. “Secret Silk Society” is the pitch-black, atonal and creepy finale in the early Bauhaus spirit that Peter Murphy carries on.
Ninth is vintage Peter Murphy and will more than satisfy his ardent fans who have been waiting for an album of this quality.
In A Word: Consummate