Norway - Full Moon 106 - 05/23/05
The Deep End
It's been two years since the slightly disappointing Grit release,
and while that more angry album did not contain so many songs that became live favourites,
the band probably got some dirt out of their system. Good to see then, that this new album, The Deep End,
is something different. Before this release, many still regarded their debut album, Industrial Silence,
as their best yet, but finally here is a worthy contestant.
Now officially a trio (drummer Simen Vangen left earlier this year, but was he ever a full member?), the band serve up
their most consistent album to date. Recorded in California and produced by
George Drakoulias (Black Crowes, Jayhawks, Primal Scream, Tom Petty, etc.), the expectations were high,
and nobody can be disappointed by the result. We have already talked about the brilliant opening track,
"The Kids Are On High Street", which made fans really excited about the new album,
and has received a lot of airplay on Norwegian radio - you may also have spotted the video on MTV Europe.
While "On Our Side" reconstructs an old Stones riff, "Hold On To You" crystallizes Madrugada's well known melancholy
On "Stories From The Streets" they successfully meld a typical Bad Seeds drive with Flamenco-like rhythms. "The Lost Gospel" is another reflective ballad held up by
Høyem's vocals. "Elektro Vakuum" speeds things up a bit, adds a biting guitar, and rests in essence on classic
(British-style) rock ballad elements, like 70's Bowie or Mott The Hoople. Quite another thing on "Subterranean Sunlight",
painting grim images with a heated brush, fire down below indeed. I never expected "Hard To Come Back" to become one of my favourite tracks,
but the refrain is really sticky with its tremolo guitars and chanting in Spanish. (Are they planning to probe the Hispanic
world? They have a Spanish name, you know ...)
"Sail Away" ends the album beautifully, but suitably dark ("I just want
to sail away from it all - freedom is impossible"), with a keyboard theme elegantly nicked from the The Doors ("Riders On The Storm").
All in all, a very solid album, confirming that Madrugada indeed is one of the top Norwegian rock bands.
If there is one problem with Madrugada, and this album, it may be that their urge "not to do anything wrong" (they have
conveyed this explicitly in interviews) is limiting their creative potential. And while this album
is solid in all regards, their purer blues renditions are simply less interesting ("Running Out Of Time",
"Ramona", "Slow Builder"). I would really like to hear Madrugada in a more experimental mode.
This is why I still regard their debut album as their best release to date - it was immature but fresh, while this
is more coherent, refined and stylized, but also somewhat more subdued - in spite of a few songs that would stand out in any collection.
There is an extended version of the CD available, adding two tracks that could
just as well have been included on the album. "Life In The City" and especially "I'm In Love", where they ramble on
in fast blues shuffle mode and Høyem sings like he's heart-throbbing and franticly in love. There is also a vinyl release of the album available, which of course looks, feels and sounds
much better than the copy-protected CD.
Copyright © 2005 Knut Tore Breivik