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Lips That Taste of Tears

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Album Review

Though Trembling Blue Stars' second record, Lips That Taste of Tears, makes some progress toward healing the wrenching heartbreak of Robert Wratton (as documented in great detail on Her Handwriting), the record is basically another monumentally sad and forlorn artifact of one man's despair. As mentioned above, there are some beams of light that shine through the blinds, namely the reappearance of Wratton's former lover (and cause of his despair/inspiration), Anne Mari Davies, who provides vocals on the choral opener, "All I Never Said," the storming house-influenced "Tailspin," the incongruously happy dance-pop tune "The Rainbow," the almost funky trip-hop song "Cecilia in Black and White" (which borrows much from engineer Ian Catt's main gig as Saint Etienne's sound guru). There isn't enough wattage in a light bulb factory to brighten Wratton's mood though as he mopes and moans his way through heartsick ballad after heartsick ballad like "Never Loved You More" (with its refrain of "I'm so far from being over you"), "I'm Tired, I Tried," "You've Done Nothing Wrong Really" ("Sometimes I want to scream/Why did you abandon me?"), and "Farewell to Forever." It could be enough to drive even the happiest camper to thoughts of homicide if it weren't for the flawless balance of wrenching sadness and musical beauty and grace. As on Her Handwriting, Wratton and Catt have again crafted a brilliant-sounding record built on cheap electronics and perfectly utilized guitars and percussion. They are equally skilled at capturing intimate moments of introspection, blissful dance grooves ("The Rainbow"), and soaring indie pop mini-epics ("Made for Each Other"). In fact, the only time their knack fails them is on the repetitive and bland techno instrumental "Old Photographs." Lips That Taste of Tears is an emotionally harrowing and musically near-perfect record, proof that Robert Wratton's heartbreak and misery makes for great art.

Biography

Formed: 1995 in Surrey, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Named in honor of a passage from Pauline Reage's infamous novel The Story of O, the melancholy Trembling Blue Stars heralded the return of singer/songwriter Robert Wratten, best known as the frontman of the British indie pop band the Field Mice. Ostensibly a solo project with significant input from producer Ian Catt, Trembling Blue Stars originally emerged in the wake of the dissolution of Northern Picture Library, the project Wratten mounted after the demise of the Field Mice with then-girlfriend...
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