Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders : Hurtsville
Jack Ladder certainly doesn't like to make the same record twice. His third album, Hurtsville, is a far cry from the Motown swagger of second album Love Is Gone, just as the latter was a stylistic leap from the lighter, sparser Not Worth Waiting For. His shift from blues-rock to goth-rock has swung the balance between Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave further in the direction of Cave, there's no question there; when I heard the single Cold Feet on the radio, I thought it was Nick Cave. But there's still a fair whack of Cohen (Blinded by Love), Springsteen (the title track) and even The Cramps covering Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus ( Position Vacant).
But there's still a whole lot of Jack Ladder too. Hurtsville comes as a pleasant surprise after a dreadful Golden Plains performance that, in retrospect, seems to have been some sort of deconstructive transition between two contrasting styles. The sweeping, epic sound of this album is a great fit for his booming voice and the Dreamlanders (Laurence Pike, Kirin J Callinan and Donny Benét) provide a masterfully moody backdrop.
Ladder's lyrics have a streak of black humour that helps to level out some of the gloom but sometimes we just get bad puns ('I want to make like a tree and... leave' from the otherwise sublime Cold Feet) and sometime they're just a bit strange ('Now lumberjacks go deep-sea diving in wet dreams', Short Memory).
While he successfully captures a mood and pays tribute to a particular era in musical history, most of the songs lack a bit of the Love Is Gone soul. However, Ladder goes a fair way to redressing the balance with the spectral closing ballad Giving Up The Giving Up .
The chameleon-like Ladder continues to thrill, frustrate and intrigue. Despite all the twists and turns that isn't likely to change.
Best track: Cold Feet
If You Like These, You'll Like This: Love In Bright Landscapes THE TRIFFIDS, High Violet THE NATIONAL, The Good SonNICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
In A Word: Gloomy