It's a steamy little affair, this album. It groans, it drones, it grinds and it'll get you all hot under the collar.
I knew a lad once, when I was at University, called Kenneth. He was your average middle class art student, meaning he was a Goth. At first he seemed to be very shy and thought very little of himself, but after a while I realised he was fiercely intelligent, he'd read more books than the Head Librarian and seemed to have a photographic memory for names, dates and clever lines, and was, in fact, immensely confident and cocky. He was quiet simply because he couldn't be bothered to talk to most people and was happiest at home, painting pictures of people being crucified and drinking bottle of cheap red wine whereas we used to go out on the town looking for cheap booze, cheap curries and girls drunk and desperate enough to go home with us.
Yes, like all Goths Kenneth was tall, spindly and looked like he'd spent all his money on white make up and black nail varnish instead of food, but he was a canny enough fella and a very, very good artist, if you liked pictures of people hanging from crosses or A-Frames.
His bedroom was one of the single strangest places I've ever been in my life. The walls were covered with bin liners (or refuse sacks for our American readers who may not know what the hell I'm talking about) and I mean covered. All four walls, the ceiling and even the furniture were entirely masked by black polythene. Scores of empty red wine bottles had been turned into candle holders and they were placed all over the room. All red candles, of course. On top of the black polythene he'd painted a large pentagram on the wall above his bed. On the opposite wall was a painting of a man (who looked very much like Kenneth) strapped to an A-Frame being whipped by two hooded and cloaked figures and the roof was covered with stars, moons and flames. Not only that, but he'd painted them all with glow in the dark paint and the main fluorescent strip light that Halls so generously supplied us all with had been replaced by a black light. When he turned it on at night the place was brighter than during the day. It was surreal, but a good place to get completely sloshed on red wine and discuss music and the like. Kenneth was a good lad, but I was very jealous of him because his girlfriend was absolutely gorgeous. A tall, flame haired vixen that used to dress in a bra and hot pants, then drape layers of black netting and lace all over them, she was absolutely stunning and sexy in the way that only rock chicks can be. Kenneth said he used to paint skulls and other images on their bodies and faces with glow in the dark paint and then get down and dirty under the black light. I've often tried to imagine what that would be like, it sounds like fun, especially with someone as beautiful as his girlfriend, but alas I've never been able to find a volunteer. But never mind.
Anyway, I'm sure you're all wanting to know what the hell all of this has to do with The Human Value and their album of the same name. Well, all's I can say is, Kenneth would have loved it. He liked anything industrial, anything Goth and anything with guitars that droned on for ever. The Human Value also has a cover that sports an illustration of a naked woman in a box and Kenneth would have liked that too.
Fans of the Kills may like this too, because The Human Value are a very Kills like outfit. Girl on vocals and drum machine, bloke on guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards and whatever else he can get his hands on. They get by with a little help from their friends from time to time, but this is essentially a Kills type band making a Kills type album. It's dark, it's dirty and it sounds as seedy as hell, but whereas the Kills are a mixture of angular guitars and Velvet Underground attitude, The Human Value's Hiram avoids any kind of angles and uses guitars that drone and wail enough to make Sonic Youth beam with pride whilst Turu, his partner in crime, wails above him with a voice that sounds like Chrisse Hynde doing a Patti Smith impersonation. Lyrically, they're all about sex and lust. If they weren't making this an eponymous album, then they could well have called it Wanting Impatiently, because they want it and they want it bad.
It's a steamy little affair, this album. It groans, it drones, it grinds and it'll get you all hot under the collar. So get out the bin bags, screw in the black light and get down and dirty. You know you want to.
Words : Damian Leslie