In The Silence Electric by Julie’s HaircutRelease date: October 4, 2019
Label: Rocket Recordings
Ushered in on a trickling of glistening crescendos, and droned out surges, the new Julie’s Haircut album, In The Silence Electric, wastes no time in setting out the atmospheric journey that you are about to take. Never a band to rely simply on generic psych tropes, they have slowly evolved into a dynamic beast which is just as happy to explore minimalist gothic trance sounds, as it is to head straight to the dance floor on a wave of fuzzed out glory. It’s Euro-psych, but not willing to stay put within any conventional sounds. It does come with some proviso’s though, as we will see.
The potency of their sound can be heard as the sound shifts from that bleak, anticipatory opening track (hell, its even called ‘Anticipation Of The Night’), into the straight ahead garage rock stomper, all coloured with krautrock rhythms, and repeated vocals of ‘Emerald Kiss’. It’s a song with intent, and one which aims to take no prisoners. It could be turgid, but in these hands it’s just so good. Julie’s Haircut are coming of age, and about time too.
Bowing out in a blaze of saxophone (yes, you never saw that coming), the Euro-trash psych disco of JH hits a nerve right between the eyes as it seeks to displace your mind, and lead you into its ever playful world. Part Lynchian nightmare, crossed with a day-glo 80’s electro disco, it’s life Jim, but not as you know it. Oh to be young again and seeking those darker recesses of life.
At least you can relive your youth as the sub-Joy Division wide-eyed stomp of ‘Until The Lights Go Out’ entices you on a merry dance into the depths of the darkened disco. The robotic pulses pulling you into the darkened netherworld, only to be cast adrift on the slow blues of ‘Lord Help Me Find The Way’, a gasp of reverential pleading amongst the mechanistic beats and fuzz-laden drones. It’s all quite life-affirming.
It does falter somewhat though in the middle section, and the stalling ‘Darlings Of The Sun’ never really gets where it wants to. Ideas run out, yet even in the doldrums, inspiration bursts out and some rather nifty, urgent synths manage to pick it up and dust it off. That said, you can’t be blamed for letting your mind drift away after the rather marvellous opening few tracks.
‘In Return’ goes nowhere except to leave you wondering quite what the band want you to feel. Cold and lethargic, it does have a certain obtuse charm but ultimately remains pointless. Not so the lovely beats that lead us into ‘Pharaoh’s Dream’, a slow-burner of a track which as it unfolds feels like it may be the epicentre of the album. Majestically building into a skronked out jam, the sax and screams that accompany it are other-worldly, and all rather superb. Quite possibly the best track on the album, it makes up for that recent lull in the middle. JH are back with a vengeance and they have some dark things to say to you.
That mysterious darkness continues in forbidding form as the cinematic ‘For The Seven Lakes’ recalls all your worst nightmares. Like some lost soundtrack to an Italian psychedelic horror movie, the almost spoken word vocals creep out of the music quite insidiously. Behind it, weird noises alert your presence to possible danger and fear in what amounts to a quite interesting ending to the album as a whole. For what started as some fuzzed out electro disco beat monster turns into a weirded out paranoid mix of songs.
In the main the album works well, and long time followers of Julie’s Haircut will no doubt lap it up. When it’s good, it is the sound of your heart racing and the adrenaline pumping, during its slow moments you do find your interest waning. In all though, it’s kept short and sweet and there are always interesting moments even when it gets dull. Whether it sticks around long enough to turn into a grower remains to be seen, but hopefully the moments of inspiration will shine through. A suitably interesting release with some rather mediocre moments.