David Holmes loves digging deep, deeper than most into the history and eclecticism of music.
He also knows how to interpret these lost sounds into snapshots of times gone by without ever seeming twee or insincere, so the concept of Unloved is particularly fascinating.
Working with fellow soundtrack specialist Keefus Ciancia and vocalist Jade Vincent, the vision is to create something akin to atmospheric gumbo, which incorporates everything from Morricone to Twinkle and The Shangri-Las to Nino Rota.
All of which is only ever going to be something impressive.
But Unloved’s success on ‘Guilty Of Love’ comes not from its varied influences, of which there are many, but its control. Ciancia and Holmes’ wonderfully constructed sound is matched every step of the way by Vincent’s louche, almost English-as-a-second-language sounding vocals which infuse every track with a style not heard in decades.
The title track and album opener spreads wide and beckons the listener in. It’s 60’s beat, it’s psychedelic, it’s pop, it’s a Morricone soundtrack and, oozing sex, sadness and drama from every angle, it’s spectacular. More than that though it’s lush and cloying, like choking on caviar. Throughout, it manages to build a sense of drama and attitude by simply taking this manoeuvre and running with it.
At times the album shimmers like the wreckage of a collision between The Shangri-La’s and The Raveonettes, with the slightest hints of Bananarama (‘Damned’), while there’s also the soundtrack to a panic attack as a road movie (‘After Dinner’), which is both terrifying but also like a forgotten gem from Lost Highway.
And they just keep chewing up the road, Goblin’s particularly challenging Giallo soundtrack stylings and John Carpenter’s ominous electronic stomp fused to create something that sounds so wrong, but oh so right. ‘Silvery Moon’ takes the Siouxsie & The Banshees sound and pushes it through the Shooting Stars club singer blender. Yet despite this, it’s oddly beautiful.
Most impressive is ‘We Are Unloved’, which takes the beauty of ‘Girls’ by Death In Vegas and the terror of ‘Atom Heart Mother’ to hell and back. It’s truly inspired. ‘This Is The Time’ is as brilliant as it is playful – which isn’t a word that could be used about much of this record. It’s moments like this, spread throughout the record, that make it so compelling.
Holmes and co. take us on one hell of a ride, delivering powerful 60’s girl group pop on a massive psyche downer. It’s as if Phil Spector’s wall of sound was built to house a truly messed up psychopath and the wrongness is slowly starting to seep through. The record is big, actually very clever, and also extremely charming in a mistress of the damned kind of way.
This dark beauty allows ‘Guilty Of Love’ to move past simple Jack Nitzsche and Italian easy listening worship/pastiche. It gives the lush orchestration of these sounds a new shade and texture.
The record is all paranoia and pearls, every moment dark and delicious. One very special concoction indeed.