The Filthy Tongues – Jacob’s Ladder (Neon Tetra / Blokshok)

The Filthy Tongues – Jacob’s Ladder (Neon Tetra / Blokshok)

It may sound weird, but if Nick Cave ever left his most celebrated band and Stan Ridgway joined as lead vocalist, I suspect it would end up sounding a little like this. It’s all a far cry from the trio’s former band, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie

Those of you who have only ever heard Ridgway’s sole UK hit, the almost-novelty-song ‘Camouflage‘, may think this is a damning indictment of The Filthy Tongues, but in actual fact, you couldn’t be more wrong. Ridgway has proved, first with the dark wave post-punk of his band Wall Of Voodoo, and then as a solo artist whose career has spanned some thirty years and more, that he is capable of writing some of the most dramatic mood pieces in the rock and roll canon. Not for nothing have film and television directors regularly featured the Californian’s work in their projects. Just witness the fabulous ‘Bing Can’t Walk‘ or ‘Just Drive, She Said‘ by way of example.

But enough about Ridgway. Let’s focus on this, the splendid new album by The Filthy Tongues, shall we? When frontman Martin Metcalfe isn’t sounding like the latter unsung genius, the band spend their time flitting between sounding like The Waterboys (‘Holy Brothers‘, which also has a vague Mark Knopfler style vocal to it), The Blue Nile and The Triffids. Once again though, some impeccable references there.

These songs wrap themselves around you like a warm blanket and effortlessly soothe your soul. This is some achievement, for these are hardly light hearted pop songs, an ominous sense of menace lurking beneath their often beautifully arranged, highly intense melodies. The tremendous ‘High‘, one of three tracks to exceed the five minute mark and feel about half as long, is perhaps the best example of this brooding potency.

It is the dark and sinister aura of the seething ‘Bowhead Saint‘ that can be most convincingly compared to the aforementioned Aussie pioneer Cave, full of colourful religious imagery and an underlying sleazy filth that makes you want a cold shower afterwards. The aptly titled ‘Children Of The Filthy‘, thereafter, begins with a similar rhythm section pattern to Suede‘s 1996 UK hit single ‘Filmstar‘ and, well, let’s just say you might want to keep that shower running for a while yet…

All in all, Jacob’s Ladder is a compelling listen and arguably the best thing these guys have recorded to date. This is music to truly lose yourself in – the Tongues have certainly got ME licked anyway.

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