Album Review: Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void
Question: is there another rock act in the UK operating on anything even approaching the same level of creativity that Creeper are at this moment? Hugely doubtful. Alongside already heightened expectations, the country’s most unapologetically inventive band have blown the competition away with their second album, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void.
They do so by daring to be different, daring to be great, daring to be ridiculed. The point is they dare, and the fruits of the enterprise have produced something that feels like a genuine, artistic one-of-a-kind achievement. Though the history books will show that this is a record released in the grip of the execrable bin-fire that is 2020, these are timeless songs that bear the hallmarks of the many pioneers who’ve paved this path, all threaded together with a masterful touch. Where in the past Creeper would, on occasion, rest on influences a little brazenly, they’ve learned how to draw from their record collections and incorporate the best bits into their own Technicolor vision.
That results in reminders of the glammed-up rush of Roxy Music and David Bowie, or the art school-esque smarts of Suede, Pulp, Mansun and The Divine Comedy. In contrast, there’s an underpinning clenched-fist Jim Steinman-era Meat Loaf-like pomp. You can spot hints of The Bangles, Blur, Supergrass, Queen, Prince, The Protomen… the list goes on, frankly. Remember when the term ‘horror-punk’ seemed like a sufficient summation of what the South coast gang had to offer? This is the purest expression of punk rock’s spirit that they’ve offered to date, yet musically they’re oceans away from those comparatively shallow waters.
If the coquettish camp of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is your idea of a good time, or you’ve enjoyed the morbid-idiosyncrasies of a John Waters movie, the lovingly-crafted universe evoked by Sex, Death & The Infinite Void might just feel like home. Imbued with endless passion, colour and a carnival of glorious sound, it’s a musical marvel. Grandiose and melodramatic as it is, the thing about aiming for something great is, it’s easy to look like prats if you fall short. But this is a record bookended with recitals courtesy of goth-punk legend Patricia Vanian (The Sisters Of Mercy). It encompasses natural stylistic swerves, where luscious strings, doo-wop, timpani drums and saxophones are the norm now. Nothing seems misplaced either – the clutch of songs the world has heard so far are a mere teaser of the diversity on offer.
There’s fantastical, otherworldly reach rooted in the very real lyrical bloodletting too (check that ‘Getting high has got us all so low’ moment on closer All My Friends, for instance). Frontman Will Gould – his croon a little Lurch, a little Gomez Addams these days – holds court with easy grace, closely accompanied throughout by Hannah Greenwood, with the pair’s vocal interplay settling into a gorgeous melancholic groove by the time the dirgy duet of Four Years Ago breaks your heart. Musically, the band are in their element at every turn, providing muscle or delicacy as required.
Admirably aiming high when so many seem content to play it safe and follow the footsteps of their peers, this a wonderful rollercoaster of a record that puts Creeper way out on their own. It wears its palpable love of music and art with a glossy pride and it deserves an audience that’ll cherish and unpack its layers for a long time to come.
For fans of: Grave Pleasures, Meat Loaf, The Protomen
Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is out on July 31 via Roadrunner Records – pre-order/pre-save your copy now. Creeper Con takes place from 10:30pm (UK), 11:30pm (central Europe), 5:30pm (New York) and 2:30pm LA on July 30 at creepercon.co.uk.