Revenir is a collaborative project by goth-rock artists Anu Kirk and Christy Novack of the San Francisco Bay Area, and their new album is titled Cure For Loneliness. Kirk plays guitar, bass, synth and oboe, while Novack plays clarinet, sax, keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals. Both have been involved in various Bay Area bands and projects over the years. They began working together in 2016, but with just limited success due to lack of time. As with many artists, the Covid lockdown gave them the space they needed to focus, with writing sessions leading to serious recording time between April 2020 and December 2021.
The band states: “We wanted to make a modern gothic rock record. Not something self-consciously ‘retro’ or completely emulating the sounds of the past. Music incorporating classic goth ideas and sounds in contemporary fashion, and perhaps less cartoony than what most people think of as ‘goth’ these days. We also wanted to write good, memorable songs that weren't afraid to be beautiful in places.” Influences include Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Cranes, The Cure, Dead Can Dance, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Love & Rockets, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, Swans, This Mortal Coil and Tones on Tail.
Recording took place at the band members’ home studios, with most of the final work performed on Kirk’s Cubase. Mastering was by Michael Hateley at Lotus Mastering.
“Emperor Teeth” is a dark prog tune that begins with a forbidding, titanic beat along with lazy, echo’d notes on the guitars and keys. Revenir’s vocal style is very direct and upfront, singing both in unison and in harmony. I’m guessing this song is using tooth decay as an analogy to the hidden decay in all of us: “Taking the false, making it true / Surface white as pearls, rotten at the root.”
“In The Moon” is a compelling track that reminds me of The Civil Union, a dream pop band I’ve reviewed here. The vocals and music very much sound like Andrew and Naomi Pahl. This track marks the first appearance of the saxophone, a stylistic addition the band seems quite proud of (“Daniel Ash played one in all of his bands”). Michael James guests on acoustic guitar. This is my absolute favorite track and it’s already getting repeated plays at my house.
“Time Will Tell” has an eerie reverse echo as the vocals rush in. This track has a slow, deliberate beat with Novack taking a solo vocal for the verses, leading into a stark, static harmony with Kirk for the choruses. I love the gorgeously thick arrangement, dramatic and scary like a sleepover at a haunted house.
“Cure For Loneliness” has a big digital drum sound, with the stark guitar energy of the Breeders (but slowed WAY down). The bass is evocative and talkative, with stepladder synths building a web of riffs and pads. This is a counterintuitive love song, with insistent shimmering chords and a beautifully industrial chorus. “I will be your cure for loneliness / As she draws near / Let me be the cure for loneliness / She breathes in my ear.”
“Rain of Lies” is so far the closest to traditional hard rock, though still very much in a minor key with “wailing” background vocals. Hard to explain but this song has a cool “skipped beat” at the end of each chorus. The lead vocals wouldn’t sound out of place sung by Gomez and Morticia Addams. “Xandrine” is upbeat space pop with angelic background vocals. This track has a pronounced ’80s sound with prominent retro synth patches. The sax returns with heavy reverb and fits perfectly within the song. “Revenance” feels like a classic rock anthem, specifically “Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars)” by R.E.M. This song features fretless bass recorded in a Korean home studio by jh0st.
The closing track is a cover version of the Bauhaus tune “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.” This song feels the most traditional, veering ever so slightly into Burt Bacharach territory (which is fine by me!). An unexpected and beautiful conclusion.
My only quibble with these tracks is that the digital drums are sometimes a bit robotic, but that’s something I’d barely notice if I wasn’t reviewing. Otherwise this album was a total joy from start to finish and I’ll definitely be adding it to my collection, and I hope you do too!
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