Audra — Audra
(Projekt 101, 2000, CD)
Voltaire — Almost Human
(Projekt 98, 2000, CD)
by Dane Carlson, Published 2001-03-01
Audra captures the factory sound of the late 70s, of bands like Bauhaus and Joy Division. Their debut CD opens with a tasty little bit of nostalgia. “In All Our Androgyny” features an addictive bass line, simple percussion and a catchy, repetitive guitar lead. Enter the bass tones of yet another Peter Murphy imitator and you have it. Audra combines the dark pop of the gothic scene with a strong sense of the past. I find Bret Helm’s voice captivating, hauntingly familiar but with enough originality to savor. I would describe this album in the same way. Bret also plays bass and keyboards. His brother Bart (guitar, drum machine) rounds out this Arizona duo. If this CD had been trimmed to 45-50 minutes this would have been an outstanding release; as it is I find myself tiring of it at times. Strictly for fans of the above mentioned bands or all you prog-goth types.
“God thinks you’re an idiot.” So sings Voltaire. Voltaire comes off a bit heavy, but luckily he doesn’t seem to take himself as seriously as you would think. Voltaire’s voice reminds a bit of Morrissey (The Smiths). Almost Human is sung from the viewpoint of Lucifer and is strong on clever lyrics. Voltaire’s goth-pop isn’t run of the mill either, featuring a violin as a lead instrument. Admittedly I wasn’t expecting much from this one but the irreverence of “God Thinks” hooked me. Also of note are “Dead Girls” (“Have you ever loved someone who didn’t hurt you…There’s no shame, there’s no pulse!”), and the cute lyrics of “Alchemy Mondays,” in which we catch Lucifer after another night of partying. Hip gothic cleverness you might enjoy.
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