YOOF KULTCHA KLASH! As nouveau-mods shimmy upstairs to pure, uncut northern soul, down in the basement something darker writhes. It’s dead flowers, chiming guitars, everyone in black! It’s goth, we think. And, surprisingly, it’s great.
Thankfully, [a]Malluka[/a] are free of the patchouli’n’panstick nightmares of yore. [a]Malluka[/a] are goth, like [a]Joy Division[/a] or Girls Against Boys were goth – not in the details, but in their morbid romanticism, the scorched-earth bareness of their sound, the way they fetishise being pale, skinny and intense. Were [a]Malluka[/a] a great deal less subtle, less earthy, they’d be Placebo.
They hail from Canada, Brazil, Finland and North Shields. Guitarist Toni Haimi looks like a young and – impressively – more sinister Jimmy Page, alternating between noose-tight rhythm lines and loose, flowering solos with ease. Singer/guitarist John Hutcheson is suitably, deathlessly deadpan, looks like Tom Petty‘s hair dropped on Tom Verlaine‘s body, and sings like the microphone has been plunged into his heart, and is syphoning off whatever secrets lie within. Bassist Carlos Rocca wears both a black leather skirt and black leather trousers. But he plays well.
On songs like ‘Beehive’, the intense, humming noise breaks into something almost accidentally beautiful. Other times, the guitars just plough on, fearsomely concise, directed and powerful, John spitting out more broken-glass poetry. It’s not exactly dancing music, true. But we’re not exactly dancing. We’re standing still, mesmerised.