Wax Nails

Despite singer [B]Mary Lorson[/B]'s best efforts, songs like [B]'Real Feel'[/B] and [B]'Narco'[/B] fail to evoke any kind of atmosphere at all, much less one of battered torch-song psychosis...

It’s Bristol’s fault. Time was when people past their prime gave up the ghost with dignity, or joined the cabaret circuit. Now they slap on a shuffly beat and mutter the mantra “there’s always been a trip-hop element to our total lack of ideas”.

The reasons for [a]Madder Rose[/a] joining this well-worn path are clear. Once they were part of an invading American force for whom the term ‘college rock’ was practically invented. Nowadays they have difficulties getting labels to release their records. Almost without precedent, The Man might just have a point.

Because while their makeover is implausible enough on the remixes that open their plucked-from-oblivion album ‘Tragic Magic’, tonight it consists solely of making their drummer go a little faster, and occasionally wobbling their guitars tremulously. Despite singer Mary Lorson‘s best efforts, songs like ‘Real Feel’ and ‘Narco’ fail to evoke any kind of atmosphere at all, much less one of battered torch-song psychosis.

Even worse, it jars horribly with the other [a]Madder Rose[/a] on display, the one that’s gone country. Now they have steel strings in their heart, and moderation branded into their souls. Making the twanging likes of ‘My Star’ and ‘Hotel’ studiously polite. So even when the odd shard of feedback appears from their past, it’s so timid you wonder whether they would have the nerve to say boo to a blanket.

Clearly, a change is sometimes as bad as a rest.