In the world of Tenebrous Liar, everything happens just out of the reach; always at the corner of the eye. The six-piece reincarnation of the Tenebrous brand, featuring driving force Steve Gullick and acclaimed solo artist Ed Harcourt, are not the type for self-promotion, happy to remain faceless and nameless if doing otherwise would detract from their work. They let the music do the talking, even if the words are barely coherent.
Straight to business, then: the (kind of) self-titled album kicks off with 'I Will If You Will', a molten slate of slow-core country. Imagine Lift To Experience stuck in the eternal damnation their songs tried to escape from, but with a result more ashcan reality than spiritually vivid. Gullick's vocals are sparse and deadpan, barely in tune; truth be told, they’re barely there at all. So wrought in misery and accepting of defeat are they that Tindersticks' most despondent work seems full of joy in comparison.
The problem with such a striking opener, a song so shot-through with despair, is that Tenebrous Liar creates a tar-black pit that is impossible for its makers to escape from. Actually, scratch that: the problem is that they try to escape, clawing for air on poppier moments like the harmonica driven lo-fi indie-rock of ‘Yellow Moon’, yet all you want to do is kick them down further. Down through as many stages of hell as it takes before you come back out the other side.
For the most part, the expanded Tenebrous exhibit enough restrain to offer some truly harrowing material and, whilst some of its content may be patchy, Tenebrous Liar retains enough earth-weary energy throughout to warrant and maintain attention. Even if it never does come completely into focus.
7Jordan Dowling's Score