Last Harbour - Saint Luminous Bride

Richard Wink 31/05/2009

Rating: 4/5

Like a black crow that drifts mournfully across the dark horizon, Last Harbour are an ominous and foreboding collective, the kind of brooding souls that might lurk in the dark corners of old fashioned pubs, drinking absinthe in the shadows.

Opening track 'Saint Luminous Bride' is reminiscent of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at their most sombre and reflective. Haunting piano waltzes with sharp violins, intermingling with religious imagery and the most macabre interpretations of marriage, where two become one flesh. Perhaps this is the unholy prelude to Elbow's 'Grounds for Divorce'. Nah, maybe not. One thing is certain, it is impossible not to fall in love with vocalist K Craig's apocalyptic tone.

'The Rifleman & The Bird' is an unravelling atmospheric drone that creeps along at a funeral pace, it could be the ballad of the unknown soldier, surveying the killing fields, walking through a thick, suffocating mist; stark, yet potently visceral. 'Brothers' creeps unsettlingly, with Craig offering mumbling moments of contemplation, then at the five minute mark the song startles into live with dramatic violin and epileptic percussion, it's like opening a crypt only to have hundreds of bats fly out, a total disorientation of the senses.

Last Harbour are in touch with the old Manchester, channelling the ghosts of the industrial age, a gloom that predates Closer and Unknown Pleasures by a century and a half, these songs appear almost as odes to the noble but downcast Lancastrians who stumbled over the Pennines in the midnight hour.

It could be argued that Last Harbour's strained melodrama is a tad forced, and this might be immediately off putting for some. Those who possess a morbid curiosity or an appreciation for the darker arts will be in for a treat.