This is Suzie Stapleton's debut album that has been a good while coming, as she's been around for a few years now and has been recommended too me by several people over the years, even if I bought my first record that features her singing on it about six years ago. She is from Australia originally and is now based in Brighton.
We Are The Plague was actually recorded before the Covid plague destroyed normal life as we knew it, but that only adds a certain currency to this album, about our modern plagues and how we need to change just about everything if we are going to come out the other side in a better state than we were in. The first time I heard Suzie Stapleton was on Axels & Sockets: The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project as she is the vocalist on two of the songs including the magical version of When I get My Cadillac with Cypress Grove. She also sings on 2 of the 3 albums Lydia Lunch recorded with Cypress Grove which should be recommendation enough! But Suzi Stapleton has been working with lots of the right people, so it's no surprise to find Gavin Jay From Jim Jones Review on Bass and that she has switched from Ian White of Gallon Drunk on drums to Jim Macaulay from the Stranglers for this album.
The opening Intro is all fairground or pier sounds to prepare the way for We Are The Plague to kick things off properly with a guitar line that sounds like Rowland S Howard is in the band, as Suzie starts to sing in favor of the coming revolution we seem to desperately in need of if we are going to move the world forward in the right direction, her vocals remind me of somewhere between Sass Jordan and Grace Solero with hints of Grace Slick, this is full throated and pained worrying of what will come and how will we fight out way through our current miasma, the spoken word part shows that she's learnt a lot from working with Cypress Grove and Lydia Lunch.
Thylacine is, as I'm sure most of you know, is named after the Tasmanian Tiger or Pouched Dog and is a bass heavy rumination where Suzie's vocals at times feel like a howling dog yelping for a way to recover after a devastating fire or plague.
Blood On The Windscreen is a deliciously dark ode for those long drives where your windscreen ends up blood spattered from all the bugs you hit along the way, and of course a few other things beside.
September has almost whispered vocals at the start of a dark blues howl in hope of surviving another September and just making it through, that has the air of desperation in every note played and sung on it.
Don't look Up is a very slow barely their song that is a bit like a darker Concrete Blonde circa the Mojave album, a song for shuffling along late at night hoping not to be noticed.
The River Song opens acapella and as this tale of floods and rising water unfolds there is some very sparse drumming, the odd single drum note every once in a while, that makes it quite haunting.
Angel Speak is a hushed vocal intro over quite gentle guitar as we hope that Angel speaks to us and helps us, while hoping we can make the angel proud of us this feels like a breathless plea for peace and forgiveness and with echoes of Jeffrey Lee Pierce style song writing.
You Were There is a slow dark blues that feels claustrophobic and intense in a similar way to the Lydia Lunch and Cypress Grove album Fistful Of Desert Blues.
In The Darkness lives up to the song name as a dank early hours of the morning barely awake barely played desolate treatise that eventually has howling cyclical guitars strafing across the room until almost everything drops out and the denouement begins, an intoxicatingly powerful song.
Silence In My Bones is whispered in a whiskey drenched voice that you'd be mistaken in thinking is trying to lull you to sleep, it may be sleepy sounding but the intricate guitar weaving through the sparse percussion take you on a journey deep into the abyss while trying to find a good way back out again, the sparseness of the arrangement trying to induce that Silence In Your Bones.
The album closes with Negative Prophet that is slowly led by Gavin Jay's Bass as we crawl through the mire in hope of a way back out, as we think of all the Negative Prophets whose messages have led us to where we are now, this is starts to feel like A Diamanda Galas style bile ridden poem, although obviously no one really has a voice like Diamanda but this is a powerful end to an album that seems perfectly on time for our desperate times.
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