- by Justin Pearson Rating:8 Release Date:2016-09-02 Label: PIAS
Aside from the “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” quote as its title, We Fucked A Flame Into Being feels literary; at least in the way that music and poetry combine to make words usually reserved for paper just as indelible in note form. Legendary poet/singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen immediately comes to mind, and Balthazar frontman Maarten Devoldere – wittingly or not - follows in his footsteps quite admirably with solo project Warhaus.
For a specific reference point, think Cohen’s 1992 album The Future, mainly its title track and other highlight “Waiting For The Miracle.” Although no one could – or will - ever match the maestro, Devoldere comes somewhat close via well-traveled vocals that stretch and slither like a snake coupled with caustic lyrics and at times crunchy rhythms that punch with a sultry sensuality.
It’s slinking, noir-ish, and one might also be right pointing to Morphine as another influence. There’s a tone of world-weary bitterness that hangs over the album; it’s dark, but not in the depressing sense. What shows more is the reflection of the energy that usually only exists from evening until extreme late night, where comfort takes the wheel and pushes life’s woes into the backseat, while still keeping an eye on the rearview mirror.
A brash brass section propels ‘Against The Rich’, a track whose punk rebellion is further voiced through lyrics that address the crumbling of once held noble ideals: ”I’ve got one hand on a champagne drinking cunt/ I’ve got the other up the ass of the establishment/ And I can’t even distinguish which hand is which.”
Devil-may-care whistling, finger snaps and cowbell (yes, cowbell) drench ‘Leave With Me’ in a cool so thick that even the protagonist’s brief, nighttime tryst becomes something to envy: “You’re my favorite new illusion/ Keep your secrets/ Keep your danger/ Love me baby/ Like a stranger tonight/ My credentials/ You can change it/ My whole mindset/ Rearrange it/ Only so much to believe in/ It’s about time that you’re leaving with me.”
‘Machinery’ and ‘Memory’ both have a 50’s/60’s vibe similar to the one New York indie band Cults perfected on their self-titled debut, but especially the latter.
The tropical, Latin-inflected ‘Time And Again’ calls to mind Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” with its end refrain of “Da da da” replacing the “Do do do” of Reed’s choir girls.
We Fucked A Flame Into Being’s sound isn’t really anything new, but it’s done well. It might not be wholly original, yet it becomes a breath of fresh air next to an otherwise static output by artists unwilling to push themselves in other directions. At least Devoldere is doing something fresh as Warhaus. All he needs you to do is to put on your coat and walk out the door for a stroll in the mysterious dark that he’s set up for you to get lost in for a little while. Let’s just hope David Lynch discovers it before final production on Showtime’s upcoming revival of Twin Peaks, as he might want to include at least one of these songs on the soundtrack.