The Membranes have lost none of their manic soundscape or youthful abandon, even if they have been unable to halt time and regain their youth. As singer John Robb sings “I am a middle aged fucked up 21st Century Man, My Body is creaking but my mind is so alive”. He sings for all of us who listened to the band when they started taking Blackpool by storm in the 80’s but who couldn’t halt the tide of time. Not that we would have but when the mind is alive you can see and hear so much.
The Membranes always experimented with sound, they were part of the post punk explosion that believed in death to trad rock. They were never a band for straightforward melodies and always tried to challenge the listener to join their madcap team with colourful antics and lots of noise. Deep down there was always a rhythm and there still is on this album.
It’s quiet at times, raucous at others but always feels one chord away from madness, maybe that sums us all up as people, one step away from abandon.
We get some sort of explanation of the universe with Dark Matter, I know now why I never listened to in Science Class in school, I would have The Membranes to explain it all many decades later with a soundscape.
Songs like Space Junk which sees Robb spitting out the words while Rob Haynes bangs a cowbell to keep us moving to the guitar riff and dirty bass or Hail To The Lovers with its fast bass-riff driven song are more of a nod to the death to trad rock era… and maybe some T-Rex for good measure.
The bass driven Into The Graveyard makes you feel like you are walking through a darkened graveyard being led by a manic John Robb hopping along playing the bass talking about all those bodies deep down, a nine minute trip. And then there’s Magic Eye (To See The Sky), interwoven with almost a nod to sitar sound droning on.
5776 (The Breathing Sky) with its dub sounding bass, or Money Is Dust which takes a funk beat and develops it through noise and then – dust to dust – it fades, shows that this is a maturing Membranes, still not stuck in a box but taking their surroundings and trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
A remix is on the way with versions of the songs being done by guests, that should prove an interesting experiment – like life, this band are always looking to evolve.