Sunday, 6 April 2008

Bauhaus - Go Away White

30 years after they formed, the hugely influential Northampton gothic rock pioneers issue their fifth and final self-released album. They’re a master class for Franz Ferdinand, Futureheads, The Rapture, Foals, Peaches... the list continues endlessly. For a little reflection, Bauhaus are named after the German art movement, and enjoy an elevated status alongside Devo, Gang of Four, Slowdive, Joy Division and Autechre. This isn’t just a name check; it’s to signify just what this record means to so many people in today’s altogether larger musical climate. The record opens with ‘Too Much 21st Century’ and the lyric: “too much rock too much conceit/give me one religion”, perhaps in recognition of that.

These are ten songs of classic guitar alongside something more jazzy, other times more minimal/electronic, or equally maybe even choral (‘The Dog’s A Vapour’) – it’s effortless, an embodiment of why there’s still people interested in what Bauhaus have to say. Simple, dark and dramatic. There may not be a ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ #2, but who wants that anyway? ‘Adrenalin’ sounds a little dated, perhaps more so than a playback of their old stuff but that’d just be the cynical power of time, which can be countered by that lyric above from ‘Too Much 21st Century’. To compare Bauhaus to any of their protégés would be improper, though ‘Undone’ is Nine Inch Nails meets Depeche Mode. ‘Black Stone Heart’ may also be a bit passé and overdone, but is balanced out by ‘Saved’, which sees Peter Murphy at his most sinister, an ethereal highlight.

If you’re a new listener to Bauhaus, instead start by getting hold of Bauhaus 1979-1983 Vol.1 for a general education. Finding the impetus to educate yourself should be easy with songs like ‘International Bullet Proof Talent’, which has enough spirit, depth, ruse and contrasting colour to surely leave you wanting more. Long-terms fans shouldn’t be disappointed, not just by virtue of the mere release of this album but instead because it’s both what’s expected and desired. ‘Go Away White’ may not ever be as classic (is ‘classic’ quantifiable?) as the back catalogue but it is a few other things - inventive and memorable, involved and distant, personal and all-seeing.

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