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Death and the Maiden - Wisteria

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 24 / 8 / 2018

Death and the Maiden - Wisteria
Label: Fishrider Records
Format: CD


Melancholic but haunting 1980's-influenced post-punk on second album from Dunedin-based group Death and the Maiden

Yet another awesome offering to come out of New Zealand and especially Dunedin are Death and the Maiden. They follow hot on the heels of other great indie bands such as Die! Die! Die!, Elan Vital and Trick Mammoth, the latter two of whom incidentally are on the same label Fishrider Records as Death and the Maiden. The story has it that, while travelling through Berlin in 2012, Lucinda King ripped a sketch of a skeleton and a woman from a book, and stored it in her wallet. It was 'Death and the Maiden', a 19th Century engraving by Edvard Munch, an artwork steeped in mythology, exploring the dark bounds between love and death, frailty of beauty, and beauty of decay. On her return to New Zealand, Lucinda began to make music with Danny Brady. Lucinda’s vocals and basslines melded with Danny’s synth and drum programming to create something much darker than the hazy take on Italo-pop they had started experimenting with. Soon, the duo welcomed guitarist and drummer Hope Robertson to the fold, and Death and the Maiden was born. And thank Dunedin for that because this has already surpassed anything I've played to death so far this year. I suppose you would call this post punk doom synth? Whatever you want to label this as it's gloriously addictive from the off. It combines drum programming to die for along with some sparse guitar and uplifting synth if you can find something uplifting in something so melancholic as this. This is off-the-scale broodingly moody and haunting. Lucinda King's vocals meanwhile completely compliment the rest of the band to a nth of a degree, which is missed by numerous groups but not here. The first two tracks - 'Wisteria' and 'Hourglass' - are mid-tempo treasures and kick the album off in blissful style until, until 'Speed of Sound', one of the strongest tracks on here - difficult because there isn't a bad song on it - comes along with what I call that Thomas Leer sound of the early 80's. Its lyrics of "You don't care about anyone or anything/You don't need to/You never do" are equally dark and haunting. The quality of these first three tracks had me asking if it could get any better, and then the vibe changed slightly with 'Ooh Baby in the Chorus' and I was transported to another dimension of the Maiden's death charms. It even drifts off into another danceable vibe from there! 'River Underground' is a dark synth dance club anthem. 'Duchess' follows in the same vein while 'Shadows' is a slower more lo-fi guitar number and 'Mercury' is a revisit back to the start where we see a more melancholic Maiden with a Siouxie influence bursting at the seams. The last track 'Everything is Stressful' is a throw at society, general life and relationships today which builds to a crescendo which is louder than loud. The lyrics of "It's already out of my control" is right - I've just sent off for the vinyl version of their eponymous first album because of this one. You know that mix tape you did back in the 1980s with the likes of the Cure, Siouxie, Bauhaus and Joy Division all on it? Well, you can picture this fitting somewhere in that. It really is that good. Marvellous!

Track Listing:-
1 Wisteria
2 Hourglass
3 Speed of Sound
4 Oooh Baby in the Chorus
5 River Underground
6 Duchess
7 Shadows
8 Mercury
9 Everything is Stressful

Band Links:-

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