Adrian Borland

Harmony and Destruction

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AllMusic Review by

This was the LP Borland was working on when he took his own life, April 26, 1999. Having hooked up with his old producer, Wally Brill, who did so much for the Sound's Heads and Hearts, the singer/songwriter had already set down the majority of the backing tracks for these songs when he shocked his family, friends, and fans by getting hit by a train -- after a fateful decision to stop taking his anti-depression medication because he thought it was adversely affecting his work on the vocal sessions. Listeners will always be saddened by that memory, but have no problem at all with Red Sun's decision, in conjunction with Borland's kindly parents (who were always supportive), to release the work-in-progress anyway, using the guide vocals he'd set down, as well as his copious pre-production notes. Listening to the guide vocals, they're all in tune, in-the-pocket, and perfectly expressive as ever. There probably would have been a few more harmonies, but otherwise, this is not a patchy salvage, this sounds like a finished LP with more spontaneous singing than usual. And with all that noted, Harmony and Destruction is, indeed, his best solo LP since his first two. It's easy to see why he was so enthusiastic about his work as it neared completion: Brill's touch is unmistakable on the warmer tracks, of which the standouts are the unsettling, just superb "Heart Goes Down Like a Sun"; "Summer Wheels," which sounds much like a Heads and Hearts outtake; and the roller coaster "Get Me a Witness." Not all of the LP is of this quality, but never does it falter, either. This regrettably final effort is full of aspiration, yearning, frustration, and most of all, tantalization. Borland was always able to instill this hunger and honesty into his work -- it's what made even his darkest Sound recordings so great, and it also enlivens these more measured, philosophical works. This LP is an emotional one, on all levels, for all reasons.