This band had most of the original members of Bauhaus and they wanted to make sure fans and listeners couldn’t claim they were replicating Bauhaus’ success. They made their point with this 1987 release. They’re never one to shy away from experimentation as we would see on their later releases, but this album didn’t sound like anything they did before. While some of their dark, Gothic elements can be found here, it’s mostly overshadowed by the folk sound that takes over most of the album. If you’re looking for the rock oriented Love and Rockets, then you may not like this record.
The album opens with one of my favorite songs “Mirror People.” The opening is kind of hypnotizing with the swirling guitar riff and drumming, but it really pulls you into the song. Also, the bridge with the rock influenced guitar riff and with the line of “Time goes by/so slow/when you start to leave” makes it one of the catchiest tracks on the album. If you have the CD version of the album, you were treated to the slow version of the song. This easily could’ve been the exact same song, but slowed down a couple speeds. Rather, we get a re-recorded version of the track that’s indeed slower. This in turn gives it this creepy feeling, especially when we get the backwards singing. It’s amazing and gives you a reason to listen to the song again. But this is as hard rock as the band gets on this release.
The next track “The Light” introduces the new sound they were working with at this time. While odd guitar feedback and Daniel Ash’s cooing vocals during the opening gives the song an eerie effect, it also has a folk vibe due to the light acoustic guitar and the bongo drums that begin to surface. But it still doesn’t stray too far from their dark roots. As the songs go on we start to hear more and more of a folk sound come through and for the first half of the album, it isn’t bad. “Welcome Tomorrow” opens with a bright and vibrant guitar riff that almost sounds odd for the band. It also has this interesting vocal style where it’s half spoken word, half singing. And “No New Tale To Tell” may be a simple song in form, but with a catchy chorus and a stamping beat, you can’t help but fall in love with the song.
Aside from the opening track, one of the best songs here is “Lazy.” What makes it so good is they step away from the acoustic guitars and explore their blues/rockabilly sound. It reminds me of the beginnings of the rock n roll sound. As if to exemplify the song title, Ash’s drawn out singing makes him sound like he’s bored out of his mind. While the songs on the second half of the album aren’t terrible, it’s where the folk sound dominates and after awhile it’s tiring. Songs like “The Telephone is Empty,” “Rain Bird,” and “Youth” all have similar light, mellow acoustic guitar sound while Ash softly sings along. As I said these tracks aren’t necessarily bad, but the songs can get a bit dull. There’s very little about them that make them stand out or make them wake up the listener and pay attention. It’s fine that they wanted to expand their sound and try something new, but maybe the album would’ve benefit from them mixing different sounding songs with the folk ones to keep the record fresh.
Another thing I noticed about the record is it seems to have this nature theme, which is easy to guess from the album title. Songs like “Waiting for the Flood,” “Earth, Sun, Moon,” and “Here On Earth” all reference the planet or wildlife in some way, whether it’s talking about the cycle of our lives or why we should be nice to mother nature. “Rain Bird” sounds like it was written in the 60’s thanks to the music and lyrical content. It makes you wonder what was going on with the band at the time to make them want to focus on nature imagery. While it’s an interesting route for the band, it gets a little dull after a while. Just like with the sound here, if they would’ve changed things up a bit with the songwriting it would’ve kept the album from getting dull.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. If you’re used to the dark, gothic rock Love and Rockets, then this album may not be for you. While they don’t stray away from their dark roots, they mainly focus on light acoustic guitars and songs that deal a lot with mother nature. This doesn’t mean the album is bad, but if folk music really isn’t your thing then you’ll grow weary of the sound after the fifth track. It’s great the band was always willing to experiment with their sound, but maybe if they would’ve included some more rock songs along with the folky ones, it would’ve kept the album going.