David Cronenberg’s Wife - Hypnagogues

Richard Wink 05/12/2009

Rating: 3/5

Like quite a few others my first exposure to the music of David Cronenberg's Wife was the cracking single 'My Best Friend's Going Out With a Girl I Like', which opened the door to their debut album Bluebeard's Room, a thorough lesson in morbid paranoia. Hypnagogues advances under a bourbon haze, the mist of negligence clouding over the wandering blind, leading the listener to pass out….. dead to the world.

'Sweden' showcases Tom Mayne's abilities as a lyricist, but sticks out at the sore thumb because nothing surpasses the track on the remainder of Hypnagogues. I don't see this as a bad thing necessarily since the opening track reminds us stylistically where we left off on their previous album, and then from the second song onwards we are covering new ground.

Trouble is, this new ground is unsteady, from the ramshackle 'Can't Keep Doing What You Do', the sound of an unhinged Ferris wheel plummeting to earth, the tale of a tease. 'The Lou Reed Song' re-imagines the melody from 'Sweet Jane', quite possibly, though a clutch of Velvets songs sounded the same, so it could be something else. DCW seem indebted to the Velvets and Mr Reed, and Mayne more or less goes down on two knees like Candy Darling in this slobbering tribute. 'Fight Song' stomps along enthused with archaic bar blues, proud of its twisted awkwardness. Slithering like a lizard pinned to the carpet by half a dozed cocktail sticks.

'You Should Have Closed the Curtains' is unabashedly voyeuristic, a peeping tom coiled tight in violin strings, squirming with fervour. The trend of this album is perversion; Mayne adopts the personas of an assortment of creeps, weirdoes, and oddities. Though he could be singing about the village vicar rubbing Vaseline onto his throbbing spire, or the dowdy spinster dressed in PVC whipping her latest 'victim' into submission. Nowadays everybody is sinner.

Hurry up we've got a train to catch. The second half of the album flies by, the pacy proto-punk of 'Body to Sleep with' at least attracts admiring ears, but the rest is so-so, from 'Jailbird' that predictably ponders prison life using a glut of mournful metaphors, before the end with 'Drawn Again' a dreary descent into the Dartford tunnel (a few minutes of semi-darkness before coming out into the rain, hip hip hooray!).

Plenty have written the band off as The Fall copyists, though Tom Mayne merely seems bored with life, and not riling against his surroundings like Mark E. Smith. At this juncture David Cronenberg's Wife look set to be a cult band, appealing to a select few devotees, who 'get it'. Those devotees will be looking forward to chapter three.