The Legendary Pink Dots

Brighter Now

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The first official Legendary Pink Dots album was actually a re-release of an early cassette, but it's as convenient a starting point as any for the lengthy, ever-evolving collection of releases the band would embark upon. The sound is certainly among the roughest and sparest of any LPD release, and in many ways is a tentative effort that is more a product of its time than anything else. Songs like the jaunty synth-box swing of "Louder After Six" and the almost flamenco-tinged "Legacy" bespeak little of the tension and threat of imminent collapse that so much of the band's work in later years would demonstrate in spades. The Silver Man is very much present as the lead keyboardist, and one gets the sense he's playing around as well, seeing what works and what doesn't, groping toward a more individual sound bit by bit. Ka-Spel's immediately identifiable vocals show his Syd Barrett fascination had understandable roots, but even then he had a consciously strange, alien lilt to his delivery that renders his results much more than revivalism. His lyrics, meanwhile, convey a lot of the sheer dread and worry that much of the music doesn't, or at least not on first blush. Whether it's the utterly freaked out demolition of the hippie dream on "Apocalypse Then," even as the synths are gently soothing at many points, or the vocodered chill of "Hanging Gardens," he's clearly finding his voice already and putting it to very good use. At its best, Brighter Now finds its own creepy air -- thus the vocal/piano only combination of "The Wedding," as anti-celebratory a benediction as could be thought possible for said blessed event, or "City Ghosts," which predicts the future of the band in many ways while still sounding stripped down and even jazzy.

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