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I Can Feel Your Bones

Bitch Alert

Bitch Alert's I Can Feel Your BonesI Can Feel Your Bones is Bitch Alert's fourth album. It arrived on my birthday and it was my bestest present even if I did pay for it myself. I was expecting a lot of it, and it paid me back with loads of treats and surprises. Why didn't I write about it straightaway? I dunno. Stuff. Anyway, I've had it eight weeks and it's still great. Now I think I love this band even more.

I love the cover :) Right down to that shade of cool dark red. All that skin 8) And I love the booklet's artwork, surreal and colourful, displaying weird obsessions with certain animals; there's a very strange combination of cows and cigarettes on one page. Bloody downloads. You know how everyone says that's where we're all going, with how we keep music? Well it's rubbish, and here's why - just look at this album and the exceedingly pretty artwork inside. Giant fish! Blue grass! Flamingoes! Kimmo does Christ! Maritta can't afford a dress! Heinie in rollers! Hey, can they sell us a poster of some of this? I'd buy it! :)

It kicks off with the crashing chords of Skeleton, a great introduction with a thrilling sound and plenty of simple direct enthusiasm for your body. Yes, rock and roll at its most basic. Which the band have always done, though if you go back a way, it used to be all about teenage angst. Not much of that here; these feelings are grown up and unapologetic and well sorted. And it's a great tune, now the second single (see below).

The album has terrific variety, of mood and style of song. I did think Kill Your Darlings was brilliant, and I still do, but I Can Feel Your Bones is truly accomplished, it's all really well balanced, 12 songs ranging from ballad through pop rock to grungy hard rock. I laughed several times - like in the second song, 14 Hours: My name is Purry I have pink fur I Live in the toy store I'm the cheapest f***ing bear... And as for Totally Out There, I know I wasn't supposed to laugh, but the first line is We are the most depressed people. If I have one complaint, it's that some of the jumps between songs jar a little, worst for my taste after If You Were Mine, and then again after Please Let Me Die First. In both cases epic is followed by rocking, and all it needed was another half second of silence, to digest the end of those songs. But no big deal...

I've always had a problem with hard rock balladry. In the world of metal, ballads have often been a matter of ridiculous posturing, exercises in dumb cliché. But there are a few here which haven't let me go easily. If You Were Mine has slow power and is a good example of the way this album touches feelings as well as the band has done so far. It's nothing complex, just a tale of one of those obsessive relationships which we've all probably witnessed. Or even been in. I'm the nettle on your hand Burning your wrists... It goes pungently acapella at the finish.

All WrongBefore the album, we were able to enjoy this single. It didn't feature anything which wasn't on the album. So why did I get it? Sheer impatience. It's a couple of typically uncompromising hard rock songs. All Wrong is a tough song full of recrimination, I thought it was anger at first but it's more to do with love being impossible, when you make the mistake of wanting the 'pretty picture'; Libertine, well, the clue's in the title. At first hearing it had more of a hook to my ears. It's sharp stuff, a clever expression of lifestyle bad judgement. It's good, and could easily have been the A-side, though for me it's All Wrong which has the subtleties which grow in your brain when you listen more.

I didn't manage to play the album right the way through on first listen. There was one track which so startled me I played it over again; and I'm still having sessions of repeat play with it. Would you be my mental big sister, June? had instant addiction quality, it didn't just put a grin on my face, it made me laugh out loud with delight when I heard it. Why? Apart from its tune and lyrics, it's the 'Hoho choir'. You need to hear this. I wouldn't want the band to make this a regular feature, but it's great and I have a fantasy - only a fantasy, because it'll never happen, without tapes I mean - that they could do it live on stage.

It's also the song which has the line about turning into a kite. It seems to be a lingering motif of the album; it turns up again by itself in the centre of the booklet, and most significantly at the end in Outro. It's kinda interesting because I'm sure it's meant to be a poetic image of freedom; but I actually read it differently at first, and though it probably refers to the kite you fly on a string, my first meaning was the other one, the bird. I preferred that one, because a toy kite is always tethered isn't it, a passive thing, but I like the idea of the free and independent bird of prey, I think it fits the feeling in some of those songs better, and of course goes with all the other creatures in the pictures.

It's funny about their English and the way they use it. I presume it's Heinie we're talking about, as regards the songwriting. I mean, I like the way English gets used differently in different places - I certainly don't think I own it just because I'm English. Seems to me her(?) English is excellent, but songwriting is a bit of a test. I think she handles verse and imagery very well - there are layers of meaning, irony and sarcasm, loads of dry humour. There are some clichés ; they're sort of the bread and butter (oh God... now I'm writing clichés myself) of songs, also a weakness if overused. One or two annoyed me, like Fire in my soul from Desert, but maybe it's redeemed by the weirdness of Cinnamon and blueberries and cherry trees hmm thinking about it, is she just taking the piss? No matter, the language of her songs gets increasingly more interesting in their twists of emotions and imagery and ideas. Why can't some of our bands write English lyrics as adventurously as this??

I'm hard pushed to say which are my favourite tracks. It's a chocolate box selection with none of the ones you hate (orange and strawberry soft centres!). Great songs, great hooks, great lyrics, great musicianship (and Heinie showing more and more vocal range) and great production... A collection of well crafted songs, I Can Feel Your Bones is magnificent from beginning to its end, where we're drummed out by the coda to Secondhand Moviestar in Outro. They've always constructed interesting playouts to their albums, sometimes indulgent, but this one is the most effective yet.

SkeletonThere's been a follow-up single, Skeleton. Yes, the cover by itself gives off quite a vaudeville impression doesn't it? And why did I get this? Because unlike the first single it's got some offbeat non-album content on it. A sinister spooky live version of Tempe Khoi. Blimey it's a nasty little serial killer style song isn't it? And something else I relished, Improv Blues. It wouldn't have worked on the album, but it's a classy moody song, yes, with blues sensibility. It shows off Heinie's voice very well, it's the sort of song I'd love to hear live. Though at this point I wish I could hear the whole album live :( The band website has some pics from the video shoot: agh, I really wish I could see that. Why can't they stick their videos onto some of their disks? Also offbeat is the fact that the inside cover is printed back to front.
Use a mirror, stupid...

This 'review' was far too long? Okay. It's only because I really got into it. The thing which makes me feel good about this record is that it wasn't just more of the same. The songwriting's getting more confident, more varied, and they're certainly not running out of ideas for good new tunes. When I was younger I'd 'discover' a band and want to keep it all to myself, so I'd feel superior and all that. But with Bitch Alert, despite the terrible name, I really really hope they can break out a bit more. Sadly, I know that with our (UK) market they may never be more than niche, but you never know. Whatever you think of their style of music, they've certainly got character. And provided they still enjoy doing it, I want more of it. Much more!

18 July 2006

Links

Hard Core Sounds interviewThis is worth a look, an interview with Heinie about making the new album. It's a little weird to follow a conversation in English between two Finnish people, but no problem at all; as ever with Heinie, it's vivid stuff. As for the site, it's good though you quickly realise what their thing is when you see that most of the listed bands are death metal.

Stupido RecordsI must mention Stupido Records again: I used them for all of these releases and I was amazed at their speed and efficiency.

Bitch Alert - Pay For Orgasm - ..rriot! - Kill Your Darlings