THE WAITING GAME
- MELODY MAKER, November 21, 1987

(Steve Sutherland's review of Floodland. Photo: Sheehan)






Facing up to the fact that nothing is new tends to separate the boys from the men. Some, like George Michael, plagiarise. Others, like The Cult, feign ignorance. Eldritch - who sort of smirks between the two - mocks, uses choirs and Coleridge, taunts pop with its elders and betters.
And, because there's really no answer to nothing new, Eldritch wears the hair shirt and employs a sarcastic nihilism, an ironic mysticism. And if First And Last And Always, the Sisters' first album, was magnificent forgery, all dry-ice and deliberate emaciation - the most amusing and educated answer to there being no answer - then Floodland is more and less the same album. It's more in that Eldritch's malignant awareness of mortality has spread from the knowledge that nothing is new to the opinion that nothing is worthwhile, and it's less in that, being incapable of contemplating nothing, it reacts to time running out by amputating all the characteristic curlicues of elevating guitar and replaces them with stark, essential foundations.
In other words, Floodland is a sane manoeuvre in the shadow of an insane inevitability; an open abrasion between the hopelessness, puerility and uselessness of pop, the instinct to create something monumental to exceed the transitory and last for posterity, and the bitter realisation that global destruction is, in theory, and will be, in practice, mankind's ultimate creation.
What Eldritch has achieved on Floodland is the externalisation of his angst so the victim of love of First And Last... is now the chronicler of the holocaust. It's a role that suits Eldritch down to the trembling ground, giving rein to the blackest of ironies and setting that absurd Hades boom of a vocal so deep that you often have to oxyacetaline the meaning from the words as they sit, trapped in the mix like bodies in tangled chassis.
Floodland is a contradiction in terms, an edifice to decay and, as vigilante of the end of everything, Eldritch unleashes all his paranoia and obsession. The gargantuan, megalomaniac "Dominion/Mother Russia", the Steinman-co-produced anthem that launches the album, finds our hero forsaking that job in the diplomatic corps and pleading with Mother Russia to "rain down" while the magnificently minimal 'This Corrosion' cleaves through its own pompous austerity to admit "I got nothin' to say I ain't said before", a revelation which, far from suggesting a lack of imagination, indicates a surfeit of it. This is a crusade of sorts and that admission, alongside the monochromatic Luftwaffe metallic slap of 'Lucretia My Reflection', the breakdown of language during 'Floodland II' [sic] or the (surely) sampled nuclear depth charge drums from Led Zeppelin's 'When The Levee Breaks' on the finale, 'Neverland' (the Zep song, in a way, is Floodland in microcosm - see, it's all been said before), is a mark of shocking honesty.
When Eldritch sings "Seconds to the drop but it feels like hours..." the red light starts winking on the dashboard and we realise that 'Driven Like The Snow' is 'Nine While Nine' revisited because he can do nothing else - we're all waiting. Like the alternative comedian whose career rests ironically on Maggie being re-elected, Eldritch functions as a bomb baby and the unbearability of that results in the overbearing aspect of Floodland.
Dying on record is a dicey business, especially when it's world destruction that dogs your every waking minute because there's nowhere to go artistically - the bomb doesn't get worse, it's just there. Facing up to that, Floodland is a triumph of sorts, neither optimistic enough to suggest there's a Noah's Ark nor pessimistic enough to accuse us all of navigating like a ship of fools. It simply says rust never sleeps and this is what it sounds like.
Great.
--STEVE SUTHERLAND




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