11 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The spindly ex-Bauhaus frontman helped write rock’s book of gloom (alongside Joy Division, Siouxsie & The Banshees, et al) for legions of David Bowie–obsessed goth kids in the early '80s. That became his legacy. He has since aged rather gracefully within (and without) goth’s musical constraints, especially on 1988’s pop-transcendent Love Hysteria. Lion—his 10th solo album—is the best record he’s done since then. It exquisitely bottlenecks Bowie-ish art-house melodrama (“The Rose,” “I’m on Your Side”) with springy electro-pop (“Low Tar Stars”), dark glam (“Hang Up,” “Holy Clown”), and Turkish violins (“I Am My Own Name”). The music sounds vampire-ageless, yet overcast as hell. When Murphy sings a line like “I like that bitter pill/The killer instinct still,” you know he believes it. His voice is supersized in spots (rising to James Hetfield–like urgency on “The Ghost of Shokan Lake”); then it moves like gently exhaled cigarette smoke (especially atop the creepy theremin on “Loctaine”). Ably produced by Killing Joke’s Martin “Youth” Glover, Murphy’s rock theater is big, wide, and forever lanky.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The spindly ex-Bauhaus frontman helped write rock’s book of gloom (alongside Joy Division, Siouxsie & The Banshees, et al) for legions of David Bowie–obsessed goth kids in the early '80s. That became his legacy. He has since aged rather gracefully within (and without) goth’s musical constraints, especially on 1988’s pop-transcendent Love Hysteria. Lion—his 10th solo album—is the best record he’s done since then. It exquisitely bottlenecks Bowie-ish art-house melodrama (“The Rose,” “I’m on Your Side”) with springy electro-pop (“Low Tar Stars”), dark glam (“Hang Up,” “Holy Clown”), and Turkish violins (“I Am My Own Name”). The music sounds vampire-ageless, yet overcast as hell. When Murphy sings a line like “I like that bitter pill/The killer instinct still,” you know he believes it. His voice is supersized in spots (rising to James Hetfield–like urgency on “The Ghost of Shokan Lake”); then it moves like gently exhaled cigarette smoke (especially atop the creepy theremin on “Loctaine”). Ably produced by Killing Joke’s Martin “Youth” Glover, Murphy’s rock theater is big, wide, and forever lanky.

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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

55 Ratings

THE VOICE!

mozollini,

Thanks to Killing Joke producer, he allowed Peter Murphy to let rip his vocal style akin to his Live performances. Then added electronics to go with the power guitar sound. Peter Murphy has always had the best voice in goth/pop/rock field. Now you HEAR IT! Gorgeous Album.

Stupendous Return to Form

Aaron1979,

Peter Murphy's "Lion" is an unequivocal triumph. "Lion" finds Murphy balancing his impeccable songwriting and lyricism with his continued foray into electronic instrumentation. Aurally - to echo the sentiments of countless listeners - it does sound like a strange amalgamation of Bauhaus, Nine Inch Nails, and 21st Century Depeche Mode. The surprising thing is: it works. Murphy's voice is in fine form, albeit somewhat subdued in the mix. "Hang Up" will go down as a classic Murphy tune: it swells with calm electronic looping as Peter's vocals become increasingly frayed, hanging on the edge of existential crisis. It sounds like something from latter-day Depeche Mode. "I Am My Own Name" starts slow before exploding in a gloriously repetitive chorus. "Compression" will also go down as one of Peter's finest: quiet and contemplative gives way to a gigantic soundscape that has to be heard to be believed. "The Ghost of Shokan Lake" is exactly how Murphy characterizes the album: a "rabble-rousing pirate sea shanty." "Eliza" hearkens to "Deep"-era material; exceptionally danceable with a tambourine-laden chorus that soars above Peter's wailing. It would be at home in an 80s goth club. "Loctaine" features one of our goth hero's gentlest deliveries in a long, long time.

Overall, "Lion" is an immense improvement over Murphy's latest efforts, particularly "Ninth." It is a fine return to form and indicative - to me - that Peter Murphy continues to be a viable contributor to pop and rock while many of his contemporaries wither among the hipster postmodern indies and fickle contemporary mainstream. Well done, Mr. Murphy.

About Peter Murphy

Despite having a successful solo career as a cult artist, vocalist Peter Murphy remains best known as the lead singer for Bauhaus, the pioneering post-punk goth rock band of the early '80s.

After disbanding Bauhaus in 1983, Murphy formed Dali's Car with former Japan member Mick Karn. Dali's Car only released one album, The Waking Hour, in 1984. Following its release, the duo broke up and Murphy hesitatingly began a solo career with a cover of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me," which was featured on a 1985 Beggars Banquet compilation called The State of Things. In 1986, he released his first full-fledged solo album, Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, which featured a number of guest artists, including former Bauhaus member Daniel Ash. Two years later, Murphy released his second solo album, Love Hysteria. Like its predecessor, Love Hysteria received lukewarm reviews but sold well to his dedicated fan base.

With 1990's Deep, Murphy had a surprise hit -- the first single from the record, the Bowie-esque "Cuts You Up," became the American modern rock hit of the year, spending seven weeks at the top of the U.S. charts and crossing over to AOR radio and the pop charts, where it peaked at number 55. Following its success, Deep reached number 44 on the album charts. Murphy wasn't able to sustain that success with his next album, 1992's Holy Smoke, which only reached 108 on the charts, despite the number two modern rock hit "The Sweetest Drop."

In 1995, Murphy released Cascade, which was greeted with weak reviews. The album failed to chart in either America or Britain. While touring with a reunited Bauhaus in 1998, he recorded the solo EP Recall. The new millennium, however, saw a newly charged Murphy. Without a deal, he took to the road in support of the greatest-hits retrospective Wild Birds 1985-1995: The Best of the Beggars Banquet Years for two tours of the U.S. during spring and fall 2000. The latter tour, which was more acoustically based, showcased some new material and rare favorites. Still a cult mainstay with American fans, Murphy issued the live double-disc Alive Just for Love in summer 2001. This delightful set was released by Metropolis and featured Bauhaus tracks and solo hits. A year later, he hooked up with renowned world artist Mercan Dede for Dust, followed by Unshattered in 2004. His first collection of new solo material in seven years, the appropriately titled Ninth, dropped in June of 2011.

Murphy toured the U.S. and Europe in 2013 to celebrate 35 years of Bauhaus. That same year, he gained headlines after a traffic accident saw him convicted on charges of a misdemeanor hit-and-run. (Other charges of driving under the influence and use of methamphetamine were dismissed.) He didn't let the incident derail his career, however. His next studio album, Lion, recorded with Youth (Killing Joke bassist Martin Glover) in the producer's chair, was released in June 2014. In 2017 Murphy released Bare-Boned and Sacred, a concert LP recorded in New York during his "Stripped" tour in 2016. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

  • ORIGIN
    Northampton, England
  • GENRE
    Alternative
  • BORN
    July 11, 1957

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