Review of David Cronenberg's Wife's album Hypnagogues
David Cronenberg's Wife is an Alternative Indie Art Band from London. Currently comprising of Tom Mayne, Rhian Tucker, Mark Watts, Stuart Saunderson, Thomas Alder, and Ian Button formerly of Death in Vegas and The Thrashing Doves. Hypnagogues is the bands second album, their first Bluebeards Room was released in 2008.
Hypnagogue, which means drug or agent that induces sleep struck me as an odd album name for what I heard on it. It felt to me that this band likes to be positioned in the more Avant-Garde Indie Art-Music scene than just straight up Alternative. So maybe the name is just a 'cool' intellectual reference to certain recreational drugs or an odd juxtaposition with the album cover, some Biblical looking character hunched over on some Middle Eastern Street? Maybe it's a title to make us think about something. or other. but I don't know. It's hard sometimes to distinguish between a bands true feelings about their work, and that which the media/publicists have portrayed. It's difficult to tell whether or not, the band has very cleverly convinced their audience that their intentions are to be artistic, or whether they have tried to be musical and are perhaps hiding behind the 'Art' tagline, just in case people don't like it. 'Well it's art. not everyone is suppose to get it' and all those other nonsense statements used as a thin shroud in case the audience is not really interested in it, with a dash of Media BS to help convince the idiots and 'scenesters' when its not really that good, that it is good. it's so hard to say these days. Plus, not wanting to ignore my own contribution to this, I am trying to find meaning and connection to a word that they have chosen for their title when it may be nothing more than a word, because I know I like words just for their own sake, like wiggle. I deviate.
Tracks on Hypnagogues, such as The Lou Reed Song which comes off as an ode to the man himself, moderately touching, with such a distinct Velvet Underground, Venus in Furs backing by the band, it is clearly intentionally inspired by the man, and his work. The rest of the album has tracks which continue with the darkly psychedelic lilt, more obviously Art scene, I kept looking over my shoulder for Edie Sedgwick but she didn't appear. Other than the 'artsy' elements Hypnagogues also contains offerings such as In the Limo which is best described as a droning Irish Waltz, with a drunken slur vocal and mildly ironic lyrics not a million miles away from The Pogues. The album is littered with intelligent and witty lyrics but then it's always hard to say really objectively if they are, sometimes intelligence sounds piffy, and unnecessary almost like in trying to be intelligent and poignant, it ends up coming across more pointless and absurd. Others have likened Mayne's lyrics and poetry to that of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits and although I see the ease of such a comparison as a reviewer, because the style of poetry and delivery are echoed by Mayne, I'm not sure in real content they are even close.
Jail Bird interestingly has a more The Beautiful South - Prettiest Eyes feel to it, than an artsy alternative indie band, though having said that, The Beautiful South in their own time may have been labelled as such, funny how times change, or maybe we'd just have called them 'alternative rock' either way I found Jail Bird stood out as different. Drawn Again¸ was another track that comparisons weren't difficult to find, slightly Joy Division, with The Pixies Black Francis vocal to Where Is My Mind attitude going on, or maybe Talking Heads in their CGBG days. Other tracks like 'Can't Keep Doing What You Do' even had a glimmer of a feeling of some early Presidents of the United States of America , there is also a distinctly Hungarian Waltz thrown in for good measure, You Should've Closed The Curtains which I did find difficult to not see a comparisons with Gogol Bordello's material, in both music and sentiment with The Addams Family Harpsichord, Violin combo, forgive me for my Hungarian/Eastern European music stereotype but you know what I mean right?
In conclusion, Hypnagogues is an interesting listen, you may not quite know what to make of it, I'm still not sure how 'artsy' it is, and worry that judged purely on musicality we could have heard a lot of this before, yet I think if you like any of the bands mentioned, that you wouldn't dislike David Cronenberg's Wife and should give it a go. Although for, Caroline Zeifman, who is actually David Cronenberg's Wife, I couldn't possibly comment!