Album review: Ian Miles – Degradation, Death, Decay
It used to be that bands would go many years, and sometimes decades, before its members decided to embark on solo ventures. But with the live campaign for Creeper’s impressive second album (Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, from 2020) obviated by you-know-what, some of the group’s personnel have been mining their own seams. In a way, it’s a bit like extracting the ingredients from a cake that’s already been baked. Singer Will Gould’s Alkaline Trio tinged side dish Salem shows some of things he brings to his day job. Now, with the release of Degradation, Death, Decay, we can see guitarist Ian Miles’ individual contribution to the Creeper mix.
In a word: darkness. Not the performative kind, either; not the theatrical shtick that knocks ’em bandy in clubs and theatres from Devon to Dundee, but something deeper, something coiled and sinuous and sometimes dangerous. ‘For a minute, lost my mind, wasn’t sure if I’d find it, but now it takes some pills and a routine to keep it inside me,’ he sings on Priority, a song that addresses the gravely under-reported issue of mental health in people who are paid to entertain us. The entirely glorious closing track, They Don’t Understand, is starker still. ‘I heard your dad’s back and he’s been drinking again,’ we’re told. ‘If only he could see the cuts under your sleeves.’
Sparse and often acoustic, Degradation, Death, Decay is a release that has its imperfections on full display. With a voice that tends to wobble, and sometimes fall from, the note, one certainly imagines that Ian knows that he’s not a natural lead singer. What he is, however, is a fluent and courageous songwriter, a writer of superior melodies, and a lyricist who doesn’t blink at the darkness at his core. Blemishes and all, his album offers an unvarnished truth that comes highly recommended.
For fans of: Nick Cave, Laura Jane Grace
Degradation, Death, Decay is released on October 15 via Big Scary Monsters
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