WINTERLAND
ALONE IN A FAIRGROUND
Dusk Records
~reviewed by Mick Mercer

Itís lovely to see John Mason, vocalist and lyricist, admitting that this is Goth band, with electronic enhancements,. And Iím not surprised this band have been popular in New Zealand because why wouldnít they be popular anywhere? His is style and content. Theyíre not image conscious, and despite their being some trad elements, thereí something weird going on here.

This has an immediacy to it which brings to mind a modern version of the Psy Furs, with better vocals, so forget any Neffs/Mission influences you hear other people telling you about. This isnít the 80ís, this is very new/now sounding. 

The guitars are always spot-on and crisp, the songs have choruses, and what moods there are never reach into the depths. They have poppy flair, kept tastefully restrained - nothing here is showy - and such spry singing you may be in for a shock. Itís light and clear like crystal. The lyrics have one-dimensional inconsistencies, but it pulls you along happily enough.

They have a great sense of space, with economic use of synth, and little flickers of bent guitar sounds popping up here and there. Itís individual throughout, and yet so - and I want you to sit down - conventional and commercial, like an Indie Band. Itís rock with indie grace. But itís Goth.

There are many classic dreamy, quavery segments, and beautifully contrite vocals rather than any arrogant bluster or fake mystery. The way the frail vocals catches in the folds of the musical cloth of ĎHanging By A Threadí will tease you with its dramatic swirls, and the sleazily grizzled guitar and mercurial rhyming couplets of ĎSoulsearcherí will appease indignant listeners, just as ĎMemories Of Youí is more traditional sparkly Goth.

If it instils anything itís a ruminative mood because lyrically he seems all over the shop and never particularly cocky, just irritable. Then it bowls you over with a sensible approach to ending by going for the big finish in ĎTwilightí with a pulverising finale, very slick with frothing guitar eddies around more spiky verbal confusion, and you have to do a double-take. Itís over? This album may seem like Goth Lite but itís so good it zoomed by.

HIDING UNDERGROUND
BLACK WHEEL
THE GIFT
HANGING BY A THREAD
SOULSEARCHER
DO NOT BELIEVE
MEMORY OF YOU
FAREWELL
ALONE IN A FAIRGROUND
TWILIGHT

http://www.winterland.co.nz
http://www.darkcelldigititalmusic.net 

10/10/02