Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands - Golden syrup (Osaka)
Intriguing second album from the Wicklow native and friends, which takes on the threads of 1980's new wave and goth influences to add more dirty disco and Italo elements. Opener Miracle candle is an underground dancefloor classic in waiting. And previous single Contact sports has an appealing noir pop atmosphere. Gouge has an air of Japan (the band) about it, which is only a good thing. The vocals aren't always successful to these ears (often fed through filters or heavy effects), but the best results are where Kelleher's voice is played straight and allowed to stand on its own merits. The beautiful falsetto vocal (as well as synthesised handclaps and creamy synth washes) of Seen me blue will make you think of Ariel Pink (I think they're calling it hypnagogic pop these days). The underdog Elvis-croon and subdued Joy Division bass riff of Broken up now are a complete triumph, and at 3 minutes leave you wanting more. The stalking, spoken word I don't remember comes on like a science fiction soundtrack, complete with distorted cosmic synth trails. But the album standout is Too many harsh words, which has a soft-spoken, vulnerable vocal undercut by a great rumbling bassline and squelchy programmed drums. An album that bears repeated listening.