Ringo Deathstarr - Pure Mood

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2015-11-20
In a very good way, Pure Mood - Ringo Deathstarr's third album of new material - sounds like 120 Minutes in the mid-90s. You keep expecting Paul King to appear, looking out of his depth. Ringo Deathstarr have always sounded a bit like a mid-point between Loveless and Nevermind/Siamese Dream but they seem to have gone all out on this album. Alan Moulder should be producing.
Pure Mood starts quietly with Dream Again's mix of Alex Gehring's voice and Renan McFarland's detuned shoegaze guitar. So when the riff from Enter Sandman kicks in at the start of Heavy Metal Suicide it's unexpected, but brilliant. Later the song will even breakdown to just riff and tambourine (cowbell would have been too blatant) a move so knowing/obvious it's like something from Saturation by Urge Overkill. Stare At The Sun is a bit more Industrial, starting with the combination of a bass riff and a metallic sound (the strings strummed at the headstock?) before McFarland cracks open a total shoegaze pop riff heading into a big chorus. With Dustin Gaudet's dancey drums high in the mix, it sounds like Curve. Show Me The Truth Of Your Love drops the pace a little bit but the album is almost entirely made up of Indie Disco floorfillers. A lot of what you hear is familiar but where Ringo Deathstarr have succeeded on this album, aside from writing some great songs and hooks, is that they've chucked all the music they love together, often in unlikely combinations, and it's worked. It could have sounded like something put together for a jeans ad in the 90s (Stiltskin) but they manage to pull it off. This is born out towards the end of the album by Never and Acid Tongue. Never is a pile of grunge guitars and the drums from Debaser which then suddenly stop as the vocal starts, just like Celebrity Skin by Hole. It's another big, daft move that they get away with. Album closer Acid Tongue starts with MBV tremolo guitar, breaking into brisk, Lemonheads-style grunge-pop before a massive riff explodes in the chorus, obliterating the vocals. The words even go 'I don't need a gun, but I've got one' - very Kurt. Then there's a lead guitar solo. In between these two examples of riding the Spinal Tap clever/stupid divide is Old Again which is Kevin Shields-like loveliness.
There was a time in the 90s when alternative music ruled. Bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and Placebo picked from the best bits of various 80s genres – Industrial, Shoegaze, Grunge - and combined these sounds with great songs and hooks. Pure Mood reminds me of those times. Most of these tracks are perfect for crashing around at the Indie Disco - they're angsty, weird, noisy, but also fun. 

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