The Alarm’s path across the rocky terrain of life and the music landscape has hit more than it’s fair share of jagged edges and deep clefts and cracks, snagging them and disturbing their progress. No one more than Mike Peters.
Initially formed in 1977 as punk band “The Toilets” they settled on “The Alarm” in 1981 and brought out a series of “alternative rock/new wave” albums in the 80’s.
Compared to touring partners U2 back then, not a lot has changed; right down to the Bono inflections.
It’s very difficult to be too critical of someone who has had to battle cancer twice and watch as his wife suffered with breast cancer, and he has poured all the anguish and pain whilst his wife was convalescing into words that ultimately became the lyrics to ‘Equals‘.
The problem is that the emotion is so clear to see that the words become a little trite.
Happily, both are in remission so there are elements that start to drift to the world at large, politics and the fear of an apocalyptic final war.
There is an overriding feeling that these are unfinished ideas, lyrics that were scribbled down in a heightened state of emotion that could have been ironed out. The basis of melodies are there but often are plodding rock songs without texture or nuances that could raise these up. It’s all a bit rushed but that is understandable.
When the album soars it’s Billy Duffy’s input that raises the bar, adding the extra something otherwise missing, that gives it a jolt of energy on ‘Coming Backwards’.
Peters had a possible 23 songs ready for this record and taking them on the road allowed him to whittle them down, dividing the collection into two categories – inwards / red / blood and outwards / black / viral. Firstly his inner battles and then the hideousness of world.
It feels like he is ready to move on from his torment and this time he is exercising his demons. He can look beyond his treatment, see a future and be happy again.
Already looking forward to the next one.
Equals is out now on 21st Century Recording Company.