MaidaVale - Madness Is Too Pure

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-03-23
MaidaVale - Madness Is Too Pure
MaidaVale - Madness Is Too Pure

The Bonzo Dog Band wrote a song that asked the proverbial question, “Can Blue Men Sing the Whites.” Well, I don’t know about that, but this foursome of Swedish women who, to the best of my knowledge, owe nothing to those likeable Bonzo boys, can surely create one heck of a wah-wah din.

This album rocks, rolls, and rumbles like a tombstone during an earthquake.

Guitarist Sofia Stroms opens the grooves with yet another way of expressing the phrase, having an axe to grind. “Deadlock” is the perfect mix of late psych and early hard rock. Vocalist Matilda Roth pronounces the melody’s importance like, perhaps, Grace Slink did with The Jefferson Airplane. Then “Oh Hysteria!” opens the floodgate of sonic pleasure. It’s just an idea, but if those preacher people who knock on my door and offer the good news about the impending end of the world were to ever suggest the reward for a life well-lived will be an eternity of listening to a wonderful extended and eternal wah-wah guitar solo, I might just (for once) not slam the door, offer to join up, and, of course, suggest this song for inclusion in their hymnal.

“Gold Mine” is pretty straight underground rock music from 1970. Vocalist Matilda punches the melody into a different altitude. The engine room of Johanna Hansson and Linn Johannesson propel the song toward the planet Urgency.  Backing vocals leave a smoke trail, and guitarist Sofia erupts with a good-old fashioned solo that rivals the greats like Savoy Brown’s Kim Simmons, at the end of a classic rock epic like “Hellbound Train.” So yes, as the album’s title states, Madness Is Too Pure.

Demons roost in these grooves.

My friend, Kilda Defnut, says they sound like The Savages, who are also an all-girl rock band. In a way, that’s true. And any fan of The Savages won’t be disappointed. But MaidaVale is post punk with its roots much deeper as the songs’ tendrils touch a more colorful palette. This is closer to great 70’s guitar bands like (my beloved) Stray on their first absolutely wonderful album. And a lot of heavy German rock bands like Jane, Jeronimo, Kin Ping Meh, and Epitaph played hard psych rock in the same fashion.

By the way, The Bonzo Dog Band also wrote a song called “Death Cab for Cutie.”

And “Walk in Silence” begins with a soft bit, then rocks like the best of a good Blue Oyster Cult tune. Then it once again descends into its title’s claim to fame. That contrast adds depth to the album.

“Spektrum” muffles the guitar strings like Wishbone Ash’s “Phoenix,” and then explodes with euphoria of its own design.

“Dark Clouds” is simply heaven on earth to hear. The vocals, mixed deep in the sound, conjure magic, while the guitar echoes with a weird alchemy of its own. This one venters into space and matches the dramatic orbits of all those before-mentioned guitar bands I loved way back then. The song actually wobbles in a very wonderful way.

There are three more songs. “Trance” is more of the same, pulsating rock with hazy psych vapors and a good head shop vibe. “She is Gone” is short and tough. And then “Another Dimension” is stuffed with a jazzy bass line, a spacey vocal, and a dissonant guitar. This is a dense and deep space-probing end to a wonderful album.

All right, true confession time. I love all this Swedish rock music. I love the old stuff like Bo Hansson, Kaipa, Ragnarok, Kebnekaise, November, and Salma Mammas Manna; and I love the new stuff like Anglagard, Anekdoten, Landberk, Dungen, and Agusa. Perhaps there’s something in the water. And, perhaps, that water is pure enough to refresh the great sounds of the past. Well, as I said about The Bonzo Dog’s question, “Can Blue Men Sing the Whites,” I just don’t know about that. But I do know this record manages to conjure the magic of rock music from long ago. It’s lovely magic; it’s deep magic; it’s sonic magic; and it’s the type of magic that only happens, from time to time, when a tombstone rocks, rolls, and rumbles--smack dab in the midst of a very old-fashioned vinyl grooved earthquake.

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