The Essence

Ecstacy: Nothing Lasts Forever

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Another album, another raft of unchanging Cure comparisons -- and considering this was the group's third, one would think that some sense of fuller development would occur. But in the overall scheme of the Essence way about things, copies of Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and The Head on the Door endlessly play on multiple stereos. Occasionally a copy of Songs to Learn and Sing and Power, Corruption and Lies gets snuck on for variety, but that's about it. Admittedly, Diener's vocals start to sound a little broader in terms of potential influence, reaching for a sort of clean '80s Euro sound, at least in the moody continent of dreams where everything is always tastefully gloomy and filmed in black and white for videos. But then he'll hit a higher note here and there and one can just realize Robert Smith is about to phone asking for copyright damages -- "Only for You" in particular sounds like "Inbetween Days" to the point that it's almost disappointing not to hear the latter's synth line. Musically, the band has its nicely haunting moments, but again the Cure lurks not far off. It's not so much the fact that in its slow, lush pace "Like Christ" inevitably calls to mind the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me song "One More Time," but having a similar line (and way of delivering it!) about being "held up" completely begs the question. And so on and so forth, song for song -- the Essence make it all sound enjoyable enough, but there's nothing Diener and company can add to what the real pioneers in the field did earlier. A slightly edited version of Ecstasy was re-released some years later with the album that followed it, Nothing Lasts Forever, as a two-albums-on-one-disc package on Cherry Red.

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