Having lived through what appears to be the very last wave of ‘guitar bands’ NJR tugs at my heartstrings just so when his bio proclaims “…rock stars still exist, but the ones that predominantly play guitar have become increasingly redundant.” So, it was with some trepidation that I approached Eulogies, a collection of songs penned by the artist over the last decade.
Fortunately, my fears were allayed before the end of the first track Sinister Pinstripe, with dirty staccato guitars crunching into my ears. The instrumentation is sparse and without a rhythm section to speak of it falls to the guitar and vocals to push the rhythm along, the fullness provided by the addition of noise and atmospheric effects. The high and resonant tenor vocal has the attitude and casual delivery which reflects influences of those guitar bands of yore.
Following the thread of simple and sparse instrumentation, What You Got? Featuring Timo Volbrecht could be described as the result of the spirit of Leonard Cohen inhabiting the body of Trent Reznor. A bass line pierces through a chaotic saxophone line, everything super-present but also drenched in reverb, giving the track the shadowy background of film noir. The energy of the song building to a crescendo that doesn’t quite arrive, a frustrating yet tantalising feature.
Having emerged from the musical fever dream comes the most conventional little ditty of this release named Leather & Jade which explores the hedonistic tendencies of the ‘Rock God’ that is mourned in all of these songs.
Finally, having descended completely into madness, Feel To Be Free revels in hopelessness, finding a kind of divinity in having nothing to lose, an idea conveyed so well by the lurching guitar and swells of vocal chorus that reaches through the disturbing synthesised groans and wails designed to unsettle. An overwhelming sense of defeat pervades the lyrics and the vocal delivery, which nails home the feeling that for Rock ‘n’ Roll musicians and fans alike; this is a eulogy.