Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Brix Smith & Marty Willson-Piper – Lost Angeles

Brix Smith is the ex-guitarist in The Fall and ex-muse of Manchester legend, the late Mark E Smith. Lost Angeles is a collaboration between her and guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, a one-time member of Aussie band The Church, and, while being recorded twenty-five years back, is only now being released, after originally intended to be the follow-up album to Honey Tangle.

Why so long to release what she refers to as her “lost album”? “I’ve always known how good this album is but, when I wrote it, I was in a dark place, I’d lost all my confidence and felt too raw to release it. Thankfully, I’m now through the dark tunnel and now feel confident enough to release it.” says Smith.

This is an album with lyrics coming from the very heart of the dark place Smith refers to, counterposed against some bright, jangly Byrds-like melodies, and is a sunshine pop album with some infectious tunes which have the potential to be earworms. This is counterposed by lyrics that are brutally and painfully honest, revealing the extent of the vulnerability and insecurity Smith refers to when she talks about losing her way while attempting to find her identity.

‘Backwards’, with its gentle melodic tune and breathless vocals, appears to be almost a metaphor for broken love as a woman, being proposed to, falls over backwards, bangs her head and is never the same again. Not many songs begin with sentiments like “look at me, the weaker sex, something to kill” as the sometimes heavy ‘On Top Of You’ does. But there’s a darker feel to the powerful ‘Sorry’, where she talks about “my toxic wasted mind” and Marty sings the apologia for ‘infecting her mind,’ and Brix sings “I’m twisting and turning, falling to the ground” over a burst of soaring guitars. ‘Flower’, however, is gently melodic and ‘Orangina’ has a REM style riff, though it’s unclear if ‘Orangina’ is a drink or a woman.

The bile flows on ‘Little Wounds’, with the line “faded scars you cannot see, it’s the little wounds which mean more to me” coming to the fore on what’s, for this reviewer, the track of the album. This is followed closely by ‘Joys Of You’ “..I wish I knew the joys of you..” a song about the loss of self-respect concerning a sexual encounter.  The rockier ‘Star’ sees some acid comments spouted “..you think you’re a star but I don’t give a **** about a person who’s clearly upset her… I feel empty, maybe you’ve sucked me clean”.

The lyrics from ‘Here Today Gone Tomorrow’, a song off da Brudders Rocket To Russia album, fits the overall mood being conveyed with “I want you still but I just can’t take it, someone has to pay the price” being the message. This is a surprisingly good take on a song from a band whose songs sound easy but don’t always translate properly.  The track ‘Soup’ sees Brix stating “I’m gonna make a soup out of you, boil you till you’re hot” sung over some lovely guitar touches.

While, lyrically, this is a dark album, the upbeat, jangly melodic tunes, sung in her delightfully breathy voice, means ‘Lost Angeles’ is an upbeat album rather than the downer it could have been. It’s an album willed back into existence after 25 years on the shelf by a woman who seems to have rediscovered the will to live again and the joy of making music.

Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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