Go Away White
It's perhaps appropriate that Bauhaus' first new studio album in 25 years is also, apparently and finally, the last. After following their 1998 reunion tour with a second in 2005 and after that eventually led to the band debuting a full range of new songs on the road, the signs for a possible new future seemed strong, but in a weird echo of the past the quartet once again disbanded before an album release. However, perhaps the best and most surprising thing about Go Away White is that it doesn't resemble Burning from the Inside or any other Bauhaus album -- rather than trying to recapture the past, the four members sought to meet in the middle where they had ended up, at least in part. It's most noticeable in Peter Murphy's singing; rather than trying to be the young hellion of In the Flat Field once again, his solo performances set the tone here in both the richness of his voice and controlled dramatics of his performance, as readily heard on the wordless singing that begins the haunted moodout "Saved." However, where the band fully lets rip, as on "Adrenalin," he certainly shows he's still got the pipes for a full-bodied howl. Hearing the dynamics of Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins working as a band in the studio again nearly a decade after Love and Rockets initially wrapped up is equally enjoyable if slightly different in feel, alternately suggesting where all three had been together and individually as well as reaching back to the original feeling of the quartet, rough and sometimes harsh but at the same time tempered with many sonic surprises. Whether it's the flow of J's bass and the shimmer of keyboards on "Undone" or the full-on dub growl-into-piano and handclaps of "Mirror Remains," Ash coming up with some utterly screwy feedback shapes as he goes, they all still have striking power. "Endless Summer of the Damned," perhaps the strongest song on the album, best captures the group as individuals and as a unit, Ash's alternately nervous and volcanic guitars, the rumbling tribal punch of the rhythm, and Murphy's stellar delivery (especially on the chorus) all combining perfectly to produce something that is at once recognizably Bauhaus and yet couldn't have been done by them the first time around. Above all, thanks to a relaxed and almost playful feeling that surfaces just as much as the intensity, Go Away White sounds like the four were trying one last time to reclaim the idea of Bauhaus as band and ethos from all the many limiting clichés heaped on it, something which the album title, taken from the song "Black Stone Heart," slyly hints at. If this is at last it for Bauhaus, they did not depart by going into the black.