Peter Murphy | Ninth

Nettwerk (2011)
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  June 29, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Peter Murhpy Ninth 

It used to be that casual music fans knew Peter Murphy only as the singer of Bauhaus's archetypal goth piece "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Times change, even for the undead, and since Murphy appeared in last year's Twilight Saga: Eclipse as the Cold One (a vampire, natch), horny pre- and post-pubescents now associate him with that dreadfully goth-lite world, alongside characters like Bella Swan. But those pale-face folk forever dressed in black — the ones who keep it old-school and side squarely with Team Lugosi — can once again claim Murphy as their own. Ninth provides a dose of gloom so savory it would bring tears of overwrought emotion to the eyes of contemporaries like Robert Smith and Andrew Eldritch, though it's not exactly a nostalgia trip — more like grown-up melancholy with an aggressive rock streak. The Godfather of Goth has never sounded so fresh, so . . . alive. "I Spit Roses" features vocals disturbingly like October-era Bono, but Murphy's most distinctive trait has always been the pall his Bowie-esque baritone casts. That's in fine form here, twisting about on the industrial synth-and-guitar thickness of "Velocity Bird" and "Uneven & Brittle" — the latter showing exactly why Trent Reznor has long been such a fanboy. "Peace to Each" is a bottom-heavy, dirty grinder that limps about like Ygor hobbling through Castle Frankenstein — and in a goth context, that's probably a good thing. It's not all zombified monotony either, as songs twist through a variety of light and shade — matching the creepy yin-yang greasepaint Murphy wears on his face on the album cover. There are more slow-burning moments, like the haunting splendor of "Never Fall Out"; or "Créme de la Créme," where the somber poeticism of "Our guns have lost their victims' names" makes the piano piece that much more gorgeous. In all, Ninth is a striking return to form.
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