Just about every great band will put out one truly great album that stands over history as their artistic zenith. The true test however is not whether they will create that one album but if the artists will continue to make the album(s) that can remain solid and keep pace with their prior pinnacles. Another factor is that if it takes a bit of time between the release of one album and another, that the dry spell is justified, pending the forthcoming album will be solid. For San Diego’s Black Heart Procession, their 2002 release Amore Del Tropico was a stylish and nocturnal array of broody tunes and their own zenith. Here we are four years later as BHP is back with The Spell, which, for the most part, was worth the wait.
This time around there is a dark and dreary sensation of inhibition looming around the album, especially with Tobias Nathaniel’s slithering organ licks and the scattered violin tinges of Matt Resovich. Frontman Pall Jenkins sings and reaches from the deep pit of his soul on numbers such as the eerie blues of the title track as well as the autumnal chamber pop of “Not Just Words.” But the blues aren’t sung in the commonplace sense of the word. It’s more of BHP’s sort of yearning deliverance of the sung and instrumental druthers, which all seem to have a black cloud hovering over them while they are slowly sinking into quicksand. But all in all, it seems as if there is a light shining amidst the clouds. In some way it sounds like the songs that Chris Martin and his chaps in Coldplay would put out, had they been raised on a steady diet of Gun Club.
“Return to Burn” impends with a rather brisk overhanging by drummer Joe Plummer’s light snare wisps adjacent to the tracks already ambient and swampy droning. The album’s piano tinges are like that of a martini lounge where all the broken hearted and gloomy Guses hang out at 3AM, drowning their sorrows in some dim lighting. It can sound borderline Gothic, in a way, but with the maturity to do away with black eyeliner and parental hatred.
Maquiladora – Ritual of Hearts
Amandine – This is Where Our Hearts Collide
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call