8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Not for everyone, but definitely for me
, 16 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Bish Bosch (Audio CD)
First, let's deal with what this record is not.
Scott Walker has not spontaneously reverted to the singer songwriter of Big Louise and its ilk, sorry.
He has been ploughing his own, lonely furrow for thirty years now with little concern for anything as approachable as The World's Strongest Man or for the many people who for some mad reason appear to express anger at his obstinate refusal to pander to fans of his 60s output.
I guess it's time to call those folks to order - only one person gets to choose what he does, and it ain't you or me.
In fact, I would always recommend trying before you buy to anyone thinking of checking out Tilt, The Drift or Bish Bosch. It's a world away from who he was, and possibly several worlds away from any comparable figure around today.
The first thing to note about his late period work is that it is designed around serving the lyric. It is common in pop music for a melody to have a lyric bolted to it, but here nothing is important but the lyrical content - style serves content, sounds serve content and melody (or lack of same) serves this, also. While the lyrics veer very close to self parodying pretentiousness at times, it is clear from several listens (for those who possess the stamina for such an endeavour) that just like on The Drift, in his rampant poetic excesses he is messing with us (Donald Duck was a major clue). Unlike The Drift, however, he times his punchlines a lot better on this record and seems less consumed with a bottomless bleakness at the same time.
I don't think I will ever forget the moment the rhythmic joke is on the listener during "Phrasing", or the jester being heckled by silence and firing back a selection of stand up comics' stock comebacks in response at the start of "Zercon", or the sudden appearance of the most mournful Christmas carol performance I have ever heard. These moments are the results of a synthesis of music, arrangement, lyric, timing and tone - to force a craftsman of Walker's calibre into writing a catchy melody when he want you to FEEL the appropriate thing rather than simply listen to him singing about it, would be an injustice.
I also wanted to address the accusations that his voice sounds bad on this record - it just plain doesn't. At 69 his voice has come on in leaps and bounds in this register, and certainly during Dimple or Corps De Blah he hits some classic notes with real feeling and tone - it seems that his insistence on stretching for the note has actually had the effect of increasing his range, rather than causing him damage.
So to whether I think people should buy the album - selfishly I have to say that it is important to me that he continues working and some level of financial success would be great for him and hopefully mean the wait for another record is half a decade again rather than the full ten years. So yes, on that level you should buy it.
Of course, from a less selfish point of view I would have to qualify this - if you hate Tilt and The Drift, there is absolutely no point in buying this. If you love Walker's latest stuff then you have probably already got it in some form or another. The undecideds (and I doubt there are many) on his recent material may find this a lot less bleak than The Drift and as a result may buy into it a bit more.
In short, don't judge this album for what it isn't. If you love it or hate it, let that be because of the content and not because Scott Walker isn't writing soul crushing ballads any more. As for me? I absolutely love it - it is probably my favourite of the modern trilogy.
P.S. I can heartily recommend getting the print copy of the album. The lyrics book is the only reason I really "got" ...conducator's multiple choice nature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you?