Black Gardenias - Rise & Demise
Owain Paciuszko 28/10/2010
Grinding, fuzzy rockabilly guitars take us straight into the retro-punk territory that the Black Gardenias call home on opening track Lady Gardenia, it has an aural similarity to the soundtrack of cult film Repo Man, specifically its Iggy Pop theme song except here dual female vocalists Lydia Fitzsimmons and Gemma Leese bring an elegant sneer to the song's chorus of 'I took you in, all your sin, all your greed, your lust, your pride.'
Cloak and Dagger continues the 50s girl group vibe over The Cramps-like surf licks and scuzzier guitar noise, it barrels ahead with grinding, energetic bass from Karl Jefferies. Disappointingly the chorus is a bit paint-by-numbers, sapping the energy of the song rather than enhancing it, making things sound like an awkward collaboration between The Pippettes and The Distillers.
Sumptuous and menacing church organ begins Norma Jean with style, a clockwork mechanism leading us into a deliciously sinister murder ballad sound, though the lyrics make - obviously so - reference to Marylin Monroe, painting the Hollywood starlet in a tragic light far better than Elton John. It draws to a surprisingly epic conclusion, with Jordan Childs' guitars shimmering apocalyptically, everything going a bit Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to pleasing effect.
This three track from the Brighton quintet is two impressive tracks sandwiched around a slightly bland filler, but on the strength of the opener and closer is never-the-less an intriguing taste of what this group are capable of.