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Review: Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late for the Brighton Line - by Corey Goldberg

Today marks the release of the new Legendary Pink Dots album, Seconds Late for the Brighton Line. The first recording since the departure of members Martijn de Kleer and Niels van Hoorn and subsequent rejoining of guitarist Erik Drost, the album finds the band largely abandoning the folk elements that still colored their last few records. On Seconds..., they've huddled in the candle-lit corner of the apartment that the electronic-based tracks of Plutonium Blonde occupied, tracing sketches with their fingertips in the ancient gathering dust. This record explores the electronic center of the Dots to a far greater depth than some of their recent releases, returning to the concepts of their earliest recordings. Synthetic spaces, distant voices, and warm grooves sit aside exquisite melodic figures and guitar commentary, but here in a way that is both timeless and novel. The band's evolution since those early days is made apparent by the new version of Hauptbahnhof. Originally recorded in 1982, the song here is ignited into a cutting masterpiece of synthetic beauty with one of the best vocal performances of Ka-Spel's career. His lyrics on the album magically capture the complicated subtleties of bittersweet sentiments, with lines like "I used to care enough to keep you safely out of reach." His biting sarcastic spoken sneer of earlier records returns on the mockingly motivational No Star Too Far with a musical sound almost reminiscent of City of Needles. Endless Time is a haunting meditation, fusing melody with inventive sound design to evoke the aural equivalent of weathered library books. "When this tired earth is ashes seconds will roll by." While it touches on all of their typical musical references, from krautrock to industrial to 60s pop to classical, this is not that record that attempts to span the entire universe in one album. It's that album for when you wish the entire universe consisted of nothing but that one quiet corner of your room with you and your headphones. It's a moody album for an uncertain evening, a lucid dream of music pouring from a distant shop window as you ponderously walk a rain soaked street alone.

Seconds Late for the Brighton Line is available in a limited edition CD package as well as in a double-LP format or digital download with exclusive bonus material.

Oct. 5, 2010

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© Corey Goldberg 2008