Douglas J. McCarthy ‘Kill Your Friends’ (Pylon)
First solo full length release from Douglas J. McCarthy the prolific singer songwriter who co-founded the highly influential Nitzer Ebb, and currently makes up half of Fixmer/McCarthy; this together with the starkly efficient artwork and the pre-release single ‘Hey’ had me anticipating an album understandably positioned within the wider EBM genre.
Opening title ‘Death Is King’ commences with some sleek drum beats and distorted keys, I was poised for some enraged ‘Murderous’ vocals when a warm even poppy synth breaks into proceedings followed by McCarthy’s distinct and yet restrained vocal timbre; this is pure dance floor – albeit a polished steel and strobe lit floor being stomped upon by ‘New Rock’ boots.
‘Demon Prophet’ is built around a deep rolling bass pattern, McCarthy’s vocals darkly simmering as he invites you to “Come down, Come down to my level” the atmosphere is sexually charged, and then again there is more light as a short upbeat synth refrain – think Lipps Inc ‘Funky Town’ (honestly, it’s that infectious) hovers over proceedings.
‘Find You’ incorporates a weirdly psychedelic synth pattern woven between the semi chanted harmonic chorus all underpinned by 80’s style drum beats. McCarthy is clearly reaching back to his Nitzer Ebb roots during ‘Move On’ – what is it they say about knowing where you come from to know where you are going; this is pure EBM, punishing BPM’s, huge cymbal crashes, snatched sounds – is that a snare from MARRS ‘Pump Up The Volume’ – the most aggressive and the most instant track on the entire album, and here lies the problem – elsewhere we are subjected to dance rhythms and even early 90’s house-style beats; Nitzer Ebb of old were definitely all about dance floors, and I would have been disappointed if an artist such as McCarthy had merely reworked ‘Join In The Chant’ and ‘Let Your Body Learn’ but in his desire to expand he seems to have pulled in so many influences that the album becomes confusing, it lacks a gritty harsh edge.
The accompanying booklet does not specifically detail McCarthy’s band, they are nameless musicians, who McCarthy despite composing all the tracks has allowed to create an album that at times is equally as faceless – Nitzer Ebb had attitude and it was that attitude that elevated them from the also rans, sadly too much of ‘Kill Your Friends’ lacks attitude, the songs are great, there are some strong melodies, all of which is proficiently played and cleanly produced and that’s the issue I have there is just no swagger, and that is a real shame.
As an artist McCarty has contributed a great deal particularly to the Industrial/EBM community, as such this album deserves to be heard, but in its desire to smooth out the edges I am left wondering where that audience will come from.
1. Death Is King
3. Demon Prophet
4. Find You
5. The Last Time
6. Move On
7. Evil Love
8. Love In The Backroom
9. Nothing After This
11. All Kind Of Wrong
12. Lovers Arms