Back when I was small I became wrapped up in that whole Robert Johnson myth. I started to learn guitar and begun thinking deeply about the value of my soul, and if being a demon guitarist was a worthy payoff. But then I traded in for x-ray vision and eventually lost my eyesight in a treacherous forklift accident.


With the opportunity to review The Holy Soul's 'Sign of the Triangle', I hoped that Sydney could yield some kind of new and tortured sold-my-soul-to-the-devil music. From samples and reviews I sketched an impression of a band that stumbles somewhere in between Tex Perkins and Nick Cave, with enough reverberation to kill Mazzy Star. In total agreement, the actual sound of The Holy Soul evokes dingy rooms full of smoke-itched eyes and alcoholics teetering on barstools and the craggy cliff's of despondency.


Dark, atmospheric production values are paired with hog-stompin' rock that's at least much better than Russell Crowe. There's the occasional tickle of lapsteel and folky harmonica on ‘Mainline', and it things get a bit more strummy on ‘Never Trust a Friend', a ditty that would surely sit comfortably on a Dark Horses album. With other song titles like ‘Dead Town', ‘This Geography is Killing Me' and ‘Cheer Up, Charlie' it's no wonder that little Julia wont find this in her Valentines sack. Nothing would be funnier than to hear Trent Marden do nursery rhymes and tell little children to scooch closer, a copy of Guns n' Ammo wafting from his back pocket.


After giving it a chance would I trade this disc in for something frivolous? I guess I'm really waiting for some new music that'll convince me of the dirty pub-rock genre, but I want to hear it from a tattered man who grumbles of a life that's stayed too long for his age. It's the same problem I have with Nick Cave, but I'm happy to acknowledge it as the appeal to his fans.


As far as I'm concerned, theatrics and mood have their place, but they have to be sincerely and near-unconsciously executed. For instance, Leonard Cohen doesn't try to be Leonard Cohen as much as Nick Cave tries to be Nick Cave. If we can ignore or get over that same fact I'm sure that there's a niche of listeners who'll slurp up this album.


From it's initial bluesy whallop, 'Sign of the Triangle' chugs along like a transcontinental train ride - you know the rails have been ridden thousands of times over, and you either wait it out or dig the ride.

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