More fragmented in origin than it might appear on first glance -- the leadoff track, a phenomenal, nuclear-strength rip through Brian Eno's "Third Uncle," featuring some fantastic soloing from Ash, came from a BBC radio session performance -- The Sky's Gone Out was caught between the expectations of an audience now thoroughly embracing the incipient goth genre, with all the built-in limitations such expectations often provide, and a band which wanted to please them while still following its own muse. On balance it's quite a fine album, but unlike Mask it misses the infusion of a more positive energy, and simply doesn't gel as perfectly, more notable for individual songs than as a whole. Old, pre-recording-career songs like the strong but already dated "In the Night" were revived and balanced against experiments and attempts to further develop the band's sound, ultimately making The Sky's Gone Out feel more like a compilation than anything else. Piece by piece, though, the songs still often showed Bauhaus in excelsis. Ash's elegant, haunting acoustic guitar work received two great showcases -- "Silent Hedges," adding a more familiar electric explosion to a fine Murphy performance detailing a desperate mental collapse, and "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything," a sympathetic, nostalgic reflection on dreams of the past, again matched by a perfectly balanced Murphy vocal. Other standouts include the brooding lope of "Swing the Heartache," with a skeletal rhythm matched against some of Ash's best guitar work, and "Spirit," a live standout inspired by the performance vibe the band received from its fans.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett