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Baptiste - Nothing Shines Like A Dying Heart

  by John Clarkson

published: 25 / 10 / 2002

Baptiste - Nothing Shines Like A Dying Heart
Label: Linear
Format: CD


Long overdue, but totally 'enthralling' combination of Velvet Underground inspired melody and feedback on debut album by London five piece, Baptiste that proves to have been very much worth the wait

It has been a long time coming, but Baptiste's much anticipated debut album, 'Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart', is here at last. The group, originally a four piece, but now a five piece, has been playing gigs to increasingly appreciative audiences in its native London since it first first formed in 1998, and has to date released three vinyl only singles, 'A New Career in a New Town' (1999), 'The Quiet Times' (2000) and 'Kissing With Your Eyes Open' (2001). The band originally planned to record and release 'Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart', which is appearing initially only on CD, on its own Linear Records in the middle of last year. The knock-on effects of line-up changes ; vocalist Wayne Gooderham and guitarist Colin Moors both losing their jobs, and Gooderham's brother, drummer Marc, breaking his hand in an accident have all, however, had their toll, and it is only now, after what has been a long cycle of bad luck, that the album has finally emerged. Wayne Gooderham, who is the group's songwriter, cites the Velvet Underground as a major influence, and 'Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart', which, combines a thoughtful and brooding melodiousness with occasional excursions into feedback, owes its greatest debt to the 60's New Yorkers during their latter period. Yet, far from simply being a parody of Gooderham's favourite band, 'Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart' has a strength and a class of its very own. Few of the eight songs on the CD last less than five minutes and several expand out to seven or eight minutes, allowing Gooderham's pensive, literary vocals ; Chris Ayles' slow-core keyboards ; Moors' robust guitarwork, and bassist Scott Brodie and Marc Gooderham's innovative rhythm playing each the chance to define and to develop their own character. From beginning to end, 'Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart' is a totally enthralling experience. The opener 'You Know Everything' is a wild, hedonistic rocker with spiky, distorted guitars and whacked-out, rollercoasting keyboards that has its protagonists living their increasingly out-of-control lives for the second, and for the next quick thrill kick. "Make a break to hide the scars/Nothing shines like a dying heart" Gooderham sings, capturing the distorted glory of his anti-heroes' lifestyle as it rushes towards what seems an inevitable messy conclusion. 'Living Horizontally', about a life only half lived, begins with the simple, soft strums of an acoustic guitar, and, adding sudden clangs of electric guitar ; gentle, popping shimmers of keyboard, and sombre clicks of drums, builds steadily to end in discordance. The ruminative, bittersweet 'Confessions of a Clumsy Man' meanwhile tells of of the disillusioned, insular longings of a disappointed romantic, while the rapid fire 'Give a Man Four Walls Long Enough and It is Possible for Him to Own the World', in contrast, is largely instrumental, and, employing a fast speeding riff, finishes with a series of quicksilver trick endings. It is a very strong first part, but one which the album's second half easily matches. The spooky, echoing 'The Half Light', about a relationship in which a couple worn down with each other can no longer communicate, is reminiscent of Joy Division and early era New Order with its chilling guitarwork ; funereal drums and Ayles' droning keyboards. 'Some Would Call It Drowning ', however, is more vibrant and, concluding with a sparkling trumpet solo, finds Gooderham taking a guilty relief in an affair having ended. The penultimate number , the slow moulding 'Tired Bodies' meanwhile captures the exhausted 5 a.m. weariness of two malcontent lovers, still awake while the rest of the world sleeps. The album concludes powerfully with 'Love in a Southern City', a breezy, seemingly optimistic love song that has its narrator initially high on the intoxication of a new romance ('Hand in hand, Ladbroke Grove/Sweaty palms and dizzy head'), but in a sharp, final twist, however, nervous doubt and worry begin to creep in ('Hold on, I want to know/Is it now and is it you ?'). Evocative, eclectic, lyrical and passionate, 'Nothing Shines Like a Dying Heart' is one of the independent albums of the year. All too often, when an album comes outs months late, it disappoints or fails to live up to expectation or hype, but this one has been very much worth the wait.

Track Listing:-
1 You Know Everything
2 Living Horizontally
3 Confessions Of A Clumsy Man
4 Give A Man 4 Walls
5 The Half Light
6 Some Would Call It Drowning
7 Tired Bodies
8 Love In A Southern City

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