auto-inserted 09-17-2014 15:56:46
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Marty Willson-Piper's tenure with the Saints was apparently a brief one; after adding his estimable guitar prowess to 2005's Nothing Is Straight in My House, the former Church axeman is absent from 2007's Imperious Delirium, with the Saints reconfigured as a scrappy power trio this time out. Chris Bailey's straightforward, elemental guitar figures recall the nervy tone of the band's superb early work, though the songs are wordier and less muscular than the stuff on (I'm) Stranded or Eternally Yours, and Bailey's fretwork lacks the ferocity of Ed Kuepper's blistering tone on those pioneering LPs. Despite that, Imperious Delirium still demonstrates that the Saints have reclaimed their status as a real rock band after years of Bailey's pop-oriented efforts. With bassist Caspar Wijnberg and drummer Peter Wilkinson offering lean but forceful backing, Bailey sings with real conviction on these 11 songs, and the swagger of "Je Fu**in' T'Aime," the potent groove of "Declare War," and the punk-wise sneer of "Drunk in Babylon" show he hasn't lost either the sneer or the smarts of his most memorable period. Wijnberg recorded and mixed this set along with playing bass, and his studiocraft is this record's Achilles' heel -- while the rhythm section sounds fine, Bailey's guitar lacks the force and definition it needs to be effective, and while his vocals sound good, they really ought to be higher up in the mix. With a bit more care given to the production, Imperious Delirium could have been a better and more aggressive record, but as it is, it's still a reminder that Chris Bailey is still a major talent, and the Saints remain a rock band to be reckoned with. Hopefully their next album will offer more hard evidence to back this up.