While the lesser Peter Murphy solo albums are burdened by too much dark mysticism and foggy, tension-free music, Ninth sounds alive, or at least, undead as his fans, dubbed "gothlings," may prefer. These tracks were road-tested on tour before Murphy entered the studio, and this is palpable as songs build and peak, delivering all the drama that made the man's work with Bauhaus so gripping. Granted there's no "Bela Lugosi's Dead" here, but "I Spit Roses" gives "Cuts You Up" a run for its money, while the closing "Crème de la Crème" is a new high point for Murphy the singer as he delivers a complicated, almost-Broadway-styled number with equal heart and skill. Check "Secret Silk Society" for that classic Bauhaus sense of dread and drag, or check "Memory Go" for Murphy's forward-thinking style of goth, which combines a post-punk throb -- think the Cure's "A Forest" -- with full-bodied, guitar-crunching breakdowns that come straight out of stoner rock. It's all put together in a right-sized package, too, with no filler to speak of, then wrapped in warm production from David Baron, who finds the proper balance of shadows and light. "The Godfather of Goth" sounds like the genre's savior here, coming on strong with those Bowie-sized aspirations and nailing that attractive Nosferatu-meets-Art-School style.