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Mayflower Madame – Observed In A Dream (Night Cult Records)

As I understand matters, I have been entrusted with the review of the debut Mayflower Madame release on account of my former life as a fully paid up member of the goth fraternity. Actually, this is probably a bad idea as try as I might, it isn’t easy to detach myself from personal prejudices across the previous three decades. I realise that isn’t the fault of Mayflower Madame but then I’m not the one trying to impersonate and update the sound of Bauhaus am I? If this was an episode of Through The Keyhole (Google it kids) then the signs would be evident, the dark and moody album cover, the deep and throaty vocal and they have even named their own label Night Cult Records. Of course, I am making sound like a heinous crime for which the band should be ritually slaughtered in a misty castle surrounded by vestal virgins, but that might just be an idea for their next video.

I have never been to Oslo, but I have an image in my head of cold, dark winters which never end which probably give rise to a significant amount of introspection and soul-searching. According to recent statistics, the Church of Norway is experiencing a decline in numbers and a part of me remains suspicious of Mayflower Madame and their ilk, because music this dark, nuanced and well made is inevitably going to draw the youth away from organised Scando-religion.

‘Confusion Hill’ opens up like The Fields of The Nephilm’sMoonchild‘ with vocalist Trond Fagernes a dead ringer for Pete Murphy, as an agenda-setter it’s a slow build full of swirling, enigmatic guitars with the pace of a granny on a treadmill. If this ends up being the score to a film about secret elves in a magical forest looking for the Northern Lights then I wouldn’t be shocked. By way of counterpoint, ‘Lovesick‘ is positively jaunty, this is what the world would have been like if Carl McCoy had joined The Coral.

‘Self Seer’ correctly roots the band, this is early Eighties Bunnymen in every way but again with that Murphy inflection to the vocal. This could be any track off ‘Heaven Up Here’ and that is not meant as a criticism, far from it. It may sound utterly pointless, not to mention lazy, just to name the growing list of touchstones for Mayflower Madame, but ‘Weightless‘ is early Editors and then the remainder of the album slips back into the comfortable envelopment of Bauhaus. Eight tracks is all we’re treated to on this occasion, which is still eight more than I’ve ever composed but a little more breadth to their sound wouldn’t go amiss.

OK, cards on the table time. ‘Observed In A Dream’ isn’t easy to review, there has been copious amounts of chatter about this being the new wave of Norwegian psych but to me this is old-goth in a new, very stylised package. All the traits are there, just look at the track names ‘Upside Down (the death loop)‘ and ‘Forever‘, for example. I have little trouble with anyone regurgitating the past providing it’s done with love and care. Mayflower Madame are a safe pair of hands.

‘Observed In A Dream’ is released on April 22nd 2016 on Night Cult Records

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.