Strangelove - Strangelove

FOR PATRICK Duff, life used to be lived under a large black cloud. A regular consignment of depressants for breakfast each day preceded a haze of romantic angst and random conversations with strangers on the London tube system. If he was lucky, he also wrote some songs. These were, more often than not, the sort of downcast affairs that made Robert Smith resemble Coco The Clown.

A couple of years after coming out of rehab, Patrick still dredges much of his musical inspiration from the bottom of his troubled soul, but his soiled net curtains appear to have opened a crack. Radiohead have reassured him that angst can appeal to the general public. He's no longer afraid to be alone with his thoughts. He's even learned to write without chemical assistance.

There's one problem with this new, lighter approach, though. Patrick's band, Strangelove, have lost everything that ever made them vaguely interesting. On their 'Time For The Rest Of Your Life' debut LP, there was a certain unflagging morbidness that at least suggested some depth.

On their self-titled third album, they keep the lyrical wallowing and add some ill-suited, upbeat, second-division guitars. The result recalls the blandness of Marion ('Someday Soon'), but only when it's not sounding as drab as Shed Seven ('The Greatest Show On Earth') or as colourless as the Longpigs ('Freak').

What's even more disturbing than Strangelove's descent into the dirgey Britmire occupied by these bands, though, is Duff's 'look-at-me-I'm-depressed' theatrical posturing. 'Jennifer's Song' is the sole track here where Duff doesn't seem to be rehearsing for Ian Curtis - The Musical. Elsewhere, he sounds like Cud's Carl Puttnam (ask your grandad) on a self-important downer and manages to amass a grand total of zero tunes.

What with this and the disappointing new Morrissey album, the bedsits of Britain look like being very quiet places this winter.


Tom Cox