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Clan of Xymox

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Album Review

Listening to Clan of Xymox's self-titled LP is like entering a club of black-clad vampires in the mid-'80s. That's not meant as an insult; the album captures a certain time and place. The record epitomizes Ben Folds Five's hilarious discovery in "Battle of Who Could Care Less": "See I've got your old ID/And you're all dressed up like the Cure." This moody, atmospheric record is as dated as a bumper sticker from a "rock of the '80s" radio station. What once seemed cutting-edge is now a nostalgia trip, and for aging goths, Clan of Xymox is home sweet home. Clan of Xymox were never original; they always seemed to be picking from the leftovers of their predecessors: the Cure, Joy Division, Modern English, Dead Can Dance, and New Order. In other words, there are icy, throbbing keyboards; bummed-out vocals; chilly, robotic percussion; gloomy, ethereal guitars; and unusual, cryptic song titles. However, even before their creative peak with 1989's stellar Twist of Shadows, the group knew how to craft some good hooks. Clan of Xymox aims for Joy Division's oppressive bleakness, but vocalist Ronny Moorings doesn't have the late Ian Curtis' intense pain or profound lyrics. The band is at their best when their pop instincts overrule their tendency to lose themselves in misery. "A Day" and "Muscoviet Mosquito" are both mysterious and catchy, propelled by infectious gothic grooves that don't slow down. "No Words" has funky riffs which reveal that Clan of Xymox listen to new romantic groups as well, and "Stumble and Fall" is beautifully lush. There's nothing brilliant or original here; however, the group's derivative sound summarizes the dance sector of post-punk accurately as they pillage from the most popular artists of the genre. An entertaining audio essay of early- to mid-'80s goth rock; from Joy Division to Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox never leave a page unturned.

Customer Reviews

question

who writes the album reviews on itunes? Xymox is an original. they sound nothing like the cure or joy division. and i know because this is the music i listen to. and tell ben folds not to quit his day job.

Defining album

This album defines Clan of Xymox. This band along with Modern English, early Cocteau Twins, Throwing Muses and Dead Can Dance helped create the whole 4AD sound. Personal favs are No words and No Human Can Drown. Check out Medusa.

Sounded like nothing else at the time

In 1983 Ronny Moorings and Anka Wolbert met while studying at University in Amsterdam by day, and absorbing the nascent new-romantic clubs by night. Eventually, both developed a nack for understanding what makes a good club song. Thankfully, they met the moody but vastly gifted Pieter Nooten around the same time.

The result was this album, and for a rare instance in pop music history a gifted multi-instrumentalist composer was able to mesh his talents with that of two charmingly awkward songwriters with limited instrumental skill but an ear for rhythm. They recruited the also talented Frank Weyzig to fill in the gaps, and such was the birth of Xymox and this debut album.

This album is what John Peel coined "darkwave" and for good reason: Xymox manages to reconcile the lush, tonal harmonies of New Wave with the dark introspective lyrics of gothic rock being pioneered by the Cure around the same time. Songs like "Stranger", "A Day", and "No Words" are beautifully catchy, while ambiguously menacing. Many Xymoxheads consider this the band's best album but it actually got better with "Medusa" in my opinion.

Download the whole album, then Medusa, and see what musical perfection sounds like.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Clan of Xymox have been in the unfortunate position of always being compared to other bands since their inception. Whether it's the Cure or Joy Division, Clan of Xymox have never been able to shake off the similarities to their influences. Nevertheless, the group has produced an impressive body of...
Full Bio
Clan of Xymox, Clan of Xymox
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