The voice is laced with irony: “I want you to laugh with me.” The song title, ‘Laugh With Me’, should imply a sense of happiness; of joviality and frivolity beyond that even of a schlock pop record. But look down that track listing a little further: ‘Grief For All’. A little more appropriate, methinks.
…Bender’s eponymous debut is a record possessing an exposed soul – every song here is delivered with the utmost passion, albeit in a muted fashion. The hushed voices have a haunting effect on the listener, their presence felt long after the final notes have departed the speakers. The music itself is sparse and spectral – blues scarred by the burning blood of a hundred drunken manic-depressives. It’ll bring the wrong ears crashing down to earth with the crushing brute force of a medieval invasion, but …bender’s understated beauty is such that even the most spirit-squeezing moments are laced with subtleties that empower rather than depress.
Geraldine Swayne coos her way through a selection of songs brimming with murderous intent, yet her relaxing tones are such that you’d gladly allow your aggressor the time to perform whatever dastardly deed is required to shuffle you off this mortal coil. ‘Stop’ is the sound of a gun being raised to a forehead; ‘Trouble Is’ the accompaniment to the fading to black.
As serene as it is sinister, …Bender’s debut long-play effort will entrance all but the most blighted of souls. Sure there are demons here, each one awaiting a fresh victim, but see them off with vigour and you’ll have yourself one of the most rewarding listens around. After all, wherever there is grief there must be hope, right?
8Mike Diver's Score