The recent past hasn’t been kind to Rowland S Howard. Unlike [a]Nick Cave[/a], his co-mainliner in The Birthday Party, Howard has never quite scaled the same heights again. With his own band These Immortal Souls having finally been put out of their misery, he now finds himself back in Australia, making soundtracks to films that don’t – and never will – exist.
Part of the problem for Howard is that, unlike Cave, when The Birthday Party split up in 1983, he steadfastly refused to alter his style. While Cave plunged deep into the blues, Howard stuck with his skeletal guitar shapes, and proceeded to make countless inferior replicas of ‘Junkyard’. Only with him singing.
‘Teenage Snuff Film’ – despite its inspired title – is more of the same. Howard is joined by current Bad Seed, Mick Harvey, and ex-member of Crime And The City Solution, Genevieve McGuckin, on a project which embraces a funereal cover of Billy Idol‘s ‘White Wedding’, and a sea of death-rattling misery.
Aside from the impossibly lovelorn opener, ‘Dead Radio’, it’s a record awash with avalanches of clattering guitars and songs without tunes. Occasionally, on ‘Undone’ and ‘Sleep Alone’, the sheer perversity of Howard‘s commitment to a sound last fashionable in 1982 wins you over. The rest of the time, you just wish he’d get over it.