Legendary Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy looks to his tenth solo album with the type of experimental fervor typically reserved for artists half his age and that’s a good thing. Lion shirks its regal title with semi-improvised pieces that are fast, loose and moody. Opener and first single “Hang Up” rushes into your ears riding waves of fuzz as heavy percussion swings between Murphy’s signature moody vocals. By the first chorus, you feel as if you’ve boarded a vessel headed straight to hell. Of course, it’s a meandering ride towards the underworld, touching on scenes of failed redemption throughout Lion‘s spacious eleven tracks.
The epic “Compression” is almost symphonic in nature, riding the type of bell curve many ascribe to a good story. Within its six minutes, its build up and sonic conflict hit at just the right time. And yes, there are flourishes of strings as Murphy wails with all his might. The fact that Murphy & co. put so much of themselves into an album originally intended to challenge their freeform selves makes the case that “goth’s not dead,” though Murphy has readily stated that he’s no longer letting outside influences in, stating that rarely does he follow the genre he helped create.
Lion‘s layout is a very deliberate one and some songs don’t necessarily translate as well when not sandwiched between their counterparts. The waltzing comedown of “Ghosts of Shokan Lake” feels almost non sequitur without “The Rose” and “Eliza” to tether it. Conversely, the closing eponymous track acts as the ultimate mission statement. “Lion” is a thesis and a damn compelling one, starting slow with Murphy on a monologue before his mournful vocals take over.
Killing Joke bassist Youth helps bring the most out of Murphy as consummate producer. It’s a partnership that started relatively open-ended and cautious but will hopefully end with far more material from Murphy that stretches his boundaries and ultimately propels him forward, even after the 35 year commemoration of Bauhaus. The future for Murphy, it seems, lies in Youth.