Adrian Borland

The Last Days of the Rain Machine

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Given the sad memory of Borland's 1999 suicide, boy is this ever disturbing to listen to. It's not the final solo LP he was finishing when he suddenly left us. No, this is a 17-song set of acoustic solo demos recorded on a four-track from 1994-1998, including sketch versions of seven he eventually fleshed out for the second White Rose Transmission album. And while right from the early days of the Sound Borland was an acknowledged master of writing intensely introspective or melancholic songs, there's something about these unadorned, unhappy songs that seems even more frightening, as if you can see what's coming. Like the final works of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, Nick Drake, Chris Bell, and Kurt Cobain, you think you can feel the weight of existence on the singer's declining spirit. An old friend and a good man, Borland battled suicidal depression, mental illness, and romantic exasperation for the 15 years I knew him, a struggle he expressed so vividly at times. Yet The Last Days of the Rain Machine is some of his most naked and affecting work in this regard. Not just in music, but in words, such as on the title track: "We thought we could force nature's hand/But she turned her guns on us." Songs such as "Snakebitten," "Running Low on Highs," "Falling Off Your Horse," "Love Is Such a Foreign Land," and "Tired Man" are not for the faint of heart. How can music so hushed be so harrowing? It shows how much Borland gave of himself and what an astonishing talent he was at his best. He was honest right to the end, in good and bad times, in optimism and pessimism, and we should always celebrate him for that. Rate this with his finest post-Sound moments. []

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