Posted on July 20th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Justin Goodman

A good summation of Swahili Blonde’s sound consists of the track list of their Covers EP: David Bowie’s “Red Money,” A-Ha’s “Scoundrel Days,” and Bauhaus’ “Watch That Grandad Go.” Not that any precise threading can be found between them, as much as there is a charming naivety increasingly troubled by cynicism; a pop music that refuses to be comfortable, with a tonal violence traceable to the early ‘80s and the beginnings of No Wave. Which is why the title of their new album is so fitting: Deities in Decline is a dissonant requiem for a dying God.

Those familiar with Kimono Kult, Nicole Turley’s last venture (which failed to meet our expectations here at IYS), might be reluctant to give so grand an entrance to this latest release. But Deities in Decline is nostalgic for Man Meat, their first album, with its unapologetic drum machine and psychedelic foreplay. “With Love and a Bullet” begins with the chirrup of an e-cymbal, the buzz of a distorted rhythm guitar, both struggling against slightly off-pitch vocals. Man Meat’s “LeMampatee” minus the funk; a return to pure avant punk. It is in no way surprising since bassist and violinist is Laena Geronimo (daughter of the late Alan Meyers, drummer for Devo) is one of the first greats of the genre.

Ironically, despite having been the drummer for the essentially forgotten WEAVE!, the percussion of the album is disruptive in its blandness. Unlike her former band’s ability to fit Afro-Caribbean and funk beneath gang vocals without losing the uniqueness of either, or the previous albums’ tendencies to disarm with rhythmic tics, Deities in Decline more often than not sacrifices the verve of weaving between meters in order to maintain balance (the one exception being the surprisingly catchy final track, “Magdalene”). The balance is precarious at best, though, and hints at a recoiling from Kimono Kult’s complete disarray. Much like Milton’s Chaos, Swahili Blonde’s discography is becoming “the Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave.”

The rebel yell of the ‘80s is fading – as is the symbol of that phrase’s origin – but legacies are irrevocable. Call it original sin, or lineage. Whichever name is used, Deities in Decline wants to mark the end and beginning of it in order to declare that all of them are as conceptual and eerily flighty as its instrumentation. It’s a world where even “the mind is an abstract design,” as Turley sings on “Purple Ink” from Swahili Blonde's previous album, Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink. But they don’t quite escape the monotony of their ancestry either, and nothing feels more concrete in the end than a drum’s pounding grounding your flight.

Track List:

  1. With Love And A Bullet
  2. Discover Aurora
  3. Three in the Tree
  4. Magdalene
Swahili Blonde - Deities in Decline
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

67 / 100
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