[sic] Magazine

Dead Guitars – Flags

In a room in a house in a dream, somebody is playing Dead Guitars Flags to me. Or maybe I put it on? I have no memory of it. What is it they say, that old cliché? ‘Pinch me’. Ah yes, somebody pinch me please. Let’s test the validity of this dream. Except, me being me, I have to challenge the conventional wisdom that ‘pinching’ is the sure-fire way of regulating the dream/reality distinction. If I’m THIS good at dreaming, then surely my subconscious can conjure something as simple as the sensation of having flesh caught between finger and thumb?

Dead Guitars are too modest. Last time around they slid their debut Airplanes out with as little fuss as possible. The record was a gorgeous, studied exercise in hazy, shimmering introspection. A treat for all fans of the members previous bands. (Inc The Convent, Sun, Twelve Drummers Drumming and White Rose Transmission).

Ah….White Rose Transmission, from where they took their name:

“Take a life in all its glory, all its sweetness, rare and dear
Now I know all that noise was just a cover
You came and went so that we might hear
…Dead guitars”


Flags is a colossal step forward. Picking up from where Airplanes left off but beefing up into something expansive and ambitious. Gentle restraint and reflection distinguished the last record. Flags still does this, in places, but there is more hope and joy here. Mad to say so but parts of Flags remind me of Doves. Certain tracks, yes (‘Miss America’, ‘Wildlife’) but not only that. The progress from Airplanes to Flags is comparable to the development the Mancunians revealed when Lost Souls gave way to The Last Broadcast. Remember? Back when Doves were still vital? Flags widens its scope yet still manages to retain a cohesive ‘whole’. Take ‘Slowdown’ as an example in point. How many times have Primal Scream tried to pastiche the Rolling Stones only to make themselves look the fools? Dead Guitars nail it on an innocuous album track. A traffic jam in memory lane …with added brass.
Totally unpredictable.

Carlo van Putten is a comforting shaman. Rather than dispensing wisdom like your typical sage guru, van Putten instead simply pulls us imploringly into his own particular daydream. And we enter willingly. As if his own light, poetic touch wasn’t enough, the guitars possess an eloquence of their own. You will not hear a more persuasive argument for Dead Guitars than a morsel of the glistening, skyward guitars on ‘Pristine’ or almost anywhere across this record. Much as I love that WRT song, Blazing, Incandescent Guitars would have been more appropriate.

DG’s are fast approaching the point where they could do almost anything, achieve almost anything. The quality I could have predicted. It’s the diversity that has got me pinching myself. Flags is a White Album for the alt-rock set or whatever we’re calling this – dream pop, post-punk, wave, goth even? (NB The Mission guest all over this record to great effect.) DG’s are spreading amorphously outside of genre limitations. In fact DG’s turn the tables on their listeners. It is not they who can be pinned down. It’s us. ‘We know who you are.’ ‘We know what you are.’ they say, wordlessly.

‘We know what you love.’

For there are people who like music, who dance to music, and enjoy it immensely. That’s not really us. Lets face it, that’s not what we are, you and I. We may be strangers meeting over the words on this page or screen, possibly for the very first time and yet we already know one aspect about each other almost intimately. Music is our lives. A minor chord can break our hearts. A little lift can send shivers down our spines. WE’RE the genre. Dead Guitars are our band. If you haven’t done so already then you really need to hear Flags.

You may say I’m a dreamer.

But I’m not the only one.



Invasion Festival