Album: Bikini Atoll

Moratoria, Bella Union

Bikini Atoll's debut starts promisingly with the pleasing shapes of the title track, a muscular instrumental built from sour, astringent guitar discords. It looms from the dark end of indie, that sombre territory that used to be known as Goth but would prefer to be called Industrial. Sadly, it all goes a bit pear-shaped thereafter, a situation not unconnected with the introduction of frontman Joe Gideon's self-consciously "poetic" lyrics, which are breathtakingly bad in all sorts of new and unusual ways. "Vital contradictions/ Tend to coincide/ A cut-glass mausoleum/ Send proceeds on high," he sings in "Black River Falls", lines so pretentiously opaque that one's never close to being persuaded they might be worth the effort of decoding. Things get steadily more ludicrous, until maximum heaviosity is finally achieved in the closing "Clear Water Gravity", where Gideon's claim that "the picture in my mind equals force over time" employs an impenetrable private logic that would tax the resources of a Stephen Hawking, were he unfortunate enough to hear it. It wouldn't be so bad if the music was interesting, but sadly it's mostly cumbersome arrangements of moody chord sequences picked out in methodical ostinatos, the kind of "difficult", self-important guitar rock that doesn't actually rock, but just sits there sulking. Would probably suit Muse fans, then.

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