There are some styles of alternative music that make a virtue of monotony. To label them dull might seem a curious criticism.
I’m a sucker for synth and the darker the better. But rooting around darkwave, coldwave, thiswave, thatwave and whateverwave, albums that really hit the spot are few and far between.
Artists that operate in the gothy end of synth, though, have a head start. When one of those strikes black gold they’ll find a fan in me.
I’m all for the outwardly aggressive wubs and flows of Perturbator and the like, but give me an album built around a cinematic, bleakly crafted mood and I’m yours.
Which brings me neatly to Manners, the second album by French darkwave trio FTR.
Album number two follows in the footsteps of 2015 full-length Horizons, a tremendous debut laced with enough gloom to give death the willies, and it does it in style.
There’s no fucking about. ‘Collision’ kicks the new record off on a high, with each element of the FTR sound given a starring role early on; the squalling guitar low in the mix is especially satisfying.
‘Black Sand’ is a masterful piece of composition, ‘Chances’ cut from the same rhythmic cloth and yet completely distinct.
There’s range even within the supposedly prohibitive parameters of the sound. ‘Love Bots’ combines both ends, meshing the magnificent mush of dark bass with insistent, immediate guitar.
‘Sunrise’ embraces minimalism immediately after ‘10327’ does the opposite. It’s that kind of album: adventurous but coherent, wild but unswervingly focused.
All told, Manners is a persistent and engaging record that lulls you into a reverie and then interrupts itself with abrupt endings and irresistibly catchy hooks.
It pulses. It prods. It drags you into its world – and what a world.
When the bass is rumbling, the intensity high, it’s the album my goth side has been waiting for in just about every regard.
Manners is out now on Third Coming Records and Metropolis Records.