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Perverted By Language – Boxers

Post-punk made a welcome comeback some 14 years ago in the shape of Interpol’s majestic debut. Dark basslines, stabbing guitars and sonorous vocals, God how I’d missed that. They sparked a revival of sorts with Editors and others following suit. The thing is, having moved to Belgium a decade ago I now realise that post punk, as well as Goth rock, never really went away in mainland Europe. Germany, Benelux and the Nordics have all hosted doom-laden indie artists and have done for some while. Bands like Cut City, Principe Valiente and Silence Is Sexy have more than kept the pilot light flickering. Perverted By Language ignite it.

Perverted By Language is the title of an album by The Fall. Perversely The Fall are about the only Manchester band PBL don’t really sound like. The name has more to do with the differing mother languages of each bandmember. Based in Brussels I think none (maybe one?) of the line up are actually Belgian. It’s that type of city folks. The band have been kicking around for a while themselves. I think the core songs on Boxers have existed for at least five years, regularly played in a live setting, but waiting for the opportunity to be captured in studio format. All us record lovers had to cling onto was the rather rough bootleg, Live At Soirées Cerises. I’m happy that they bided their time though. The songs sound great on Boxers, the mix terrific with no part overpowering the rest. Crucially, they have taste. The bands main influences seem to be those major players from back in the day. As you would expect Joy Division and The Chameleons loom largest. There’s a nod towards the Banshees (and early Cocteau Twins) on the Elise Boennec fronted ‘Amandine’ and ‘The Idealist’ is more Interpol than anything on El Pintor. But PBL mix it up, formulate their own blend and bottle it for our pleasure. Their execution is brilliant. Duelling twin guitars often take the limelight in such dreampop settings but the rhythm section is often what seals the deal. PBL cover all sonic bases allowing the spectral baritone of Jez Thomas to float over the soundscape.

People sometimes say this type of music is dark or depressing. I find it warm and inviting. The bass is sensual, the guitars sparkle and Thomas pitches his performance as wounded rather than agonised. Wise move. Too often bands of this ilk are undone by pretention and fall foul of ridicule. Yes there’s a heavier Goth element to PBL at times, witness epic closer ‘Pewter Eyes’, but they play it deadpan and Boxers works better for it. Enjoy this record then, and visualise the power and potential of these songs in a live setting.

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