Review: The Deaths – Centralia

Don’t be put off by the name, The Deaths never come close to unleashing metallic horror upon wary ears. Rather they recall songwriting of a considerably older vintage with their woozy, psychedelic pop music. ‘Centralia’ is the follow-up album to 2006’s well-received ‘Choir Invisible’.

Karl Qualey’s throaty performance could probably determine whether you like the band or not; in fact I had to double take to check that he wasn’t Andrew Chester of My Computer fame, such are the vocal simlarities between the two. Of the album highlights, ‘Revolution’ sways dramatically between ‘Strawberry Fields’ and British grunge whilst sax and organ-assisted interlude ‘Lemon Lane’ (Parts I and II) and ‘To The Start’ evoke a nostalgic trip through a 1960’s street market.

Most of the other material doesn’t stand out so boldly but makes sense in the context of album; only the beats-heavy ‘Selecter’ sounding out of place. Then from out of nowhere comes what I think may be an affectionate tribute to Blue Peter hero Peter Duncan. It’s an infectious pop highlight and would surely be a hit if it had been released twenty years ago.

It is at this time that I would normally summarise by saying ‘Centralia’ deserves to be hailed as a typically idiosyncratic British effort. So the surprise is The Deaths are a Minneapolis-based outfit whose most recognisable infuences just happen to be from 1960’s England. Nonetheless, the record stands on its own two feet as a wistful, colourful and lovingly-produced collection of songs.

Web Sites:
The Deaths Official Site
The Deaths MySpace

Further Listening:
The Crimea, My Computer, Mountaineers, The Kinks, Dawn Of The Replicants

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