I expect there will be a lot written about this record, and I was in two minds about reviewing it, but I suppose there is something so bloody cussed about it that you can’t help but try to engage with it - it sits there brooding in a corner, refusing to go, refusing to take the hint. There are elements of early New Order about the arrangements now and again, tracks like Mesh, or Wire, (listen to Don’t Look at Me); that kind of quietly built, steady song with simple wan keyboard arrangements.
It’s a metallic record too: Alphabet, Don’t Move and Dead City have a grinding, grimy industrial quality to them, and you can feel the cogs turning, the machine press banging and taste the oil film in the air. It’s a ghostly work too – the band feel like they’re operating on two planes; showcasing both the music and the message. It does have that feeling that there’s another world being described alongside the visible one - which is in the time-honoured Scots tradition of story-telling. Nil is particularly spooky with its tales of violence (?)…. and even when it kicks up a gear into some kind of low grade symphony it still feels incredibly threatening. Or listen to Not Sleeping, with its menacing, glowering synths and grizzled guitar work outs it is a true exercise in grim North Country Gothic.
Now and again there’s an attempt to rouse the troops, such with as Another Bed, or Kill It In The Morning. But even then the record seems to feel more comfortable to work out its existence in a minor key. It may be grim but it’s sustaining stuff.