Balaam & the Angel

Sun Family: The Chapter 22 Years

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The original Sun Family, released in 1986, compiled ten songs Balaam & the Angel had recorded at the outset of their career for their own Chapter 22 label, all but one of which had been issued on 1984-1985 EPs. The expanded CD edition, released by Anagram in 2002, adds nine bonus tracks. Taken together, the 19 songs include all 12 of the songs from the 1984-1985 Chapter 22 EPs, though unfortunately the liner notes don't make it clear what the sources of the nine bonus cuts are. Presumably, it's all from the mid-'80s, though it's uncertain whether the six bonus songs that didn't appear on the 1984-1985 EPs are the same versions of the tracks with the same titles that are on their 1986 Virgin EPs. Although this is part of Anagram's goth revival line, it's above average for goth rock, with more of a pop feel and more mainstream production. It's not exactly mainstream or goth; it's moody but not esoteric post-punk, with the kind of melodramatic vocals and watery guitar reverb one associates with mid-'80s recordings of the sort. Occasionally there's a sort of arty, ambient postmodern chamber music feel, and touches like the flute (or flute-like sound) on "For More Than a Day" and "Return Again" liberate this from some of the more clich├ęd post-punk/goth formulas. The songs do sound similar to each other too often, but as this kind of stuff goes, it's relatively reserved and dignified. The CD reissue includes informative liner notes by Balaam & the Angel's drummer, Des Morris.

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