Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Bastard Fairies - Memento Mori

The Bastard Fairies
Memento Mori
The Bastard Fairies 2007

Reactor Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I have a great deal of respect for any artist that produces their own music - for better or worse. I have even more respect for an artist that then gives away their work, especially if the work is listenable or better.

The Bastard Fairies have done both.

Formed by Yellow Thunder Woman and Robin Davey because "there wasn't any music out there that they liked listening too", Momento Mori has to be one of the best albums released during the first half of this year.

Momento weaves in and out of spaces once occupied by the likes of Blondie and The Talking Heads, as well as sharing the same neighborhood of modern acts such as Kiss Me Deadly and The Raveonettes.

The album starts with "The Greatest Love Song" and an introduction to Yellow Thunder Woman's very personal writing style. With lyrics such as "I'll have a hysterectomy / And we'll live our lives problem-free" and a chorus that sounds as if her daughter is covering back-up vocal duties, you get the feeling right out of the gate that this is not a woman trying to hide a whole lot from the world.

Musically, the album is a tapestry of sounds that weave together perfectly. A toy piano, an old acoustic guitar, drum machines, to name a few all gel together powerfully to create the perfect room for the vocals to rest in. Robin Davey thoroughly understands the concept of knowing when to play and when not to play his instruments, keeping things uncluttered and simple, yet interesting throughout.

Standout tracks include "Habitual Intimate", the R-rated children's song "We're All Going to Hell", a bouncy/Blondie-ish "A Venomous Tale", and the intimate "Guns and Dolls".

The album does falter a bit when they push some noisy breaks and interludes in the middle of songs, but these spots are rare.

As of this writing, you can still listen to and download the original twelve tracks that were released on their website (, as well as watch a few videos of the band performing. They have since released a CD and DVD set that contains five unreleased tracks as well as video performances not available online. Usually when bands roll out the same album with a few "bonus" tracks, you can be assured that it is not a worthwhile investment. With The Bastard Fairies, the normal rules do not seem to apply.

-Curt Meinhold

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