Moving unseen amongst the whores and dockers of Cardiff's old town, Smokehand pad their way street by street. They hide away from view beneath railway arches and in doorways, making detailed observance of the late night human detritus who lemming-rush, to sprawl on filth-shiny velvet in weary, sleaze clubs, searching with decadent desperation for the one love. Here live the souls ready to catch 'The Last Train'.
Fronted by shot-silken voiced Adam Stangroom, Smokehand consciously avoid latest trends or in-styles with as much fervency as they would syphilis. Their wayward sound, further realised by the band's stage craft, brings to mind the books of Raymond Carver, classic Bogart and Bacall films, and the brave and timely rebellion of Berthold Brecht, with all their betrayals, loves lost and street drama filtered though shaded Film Noir eyes.
Sometimes falling a little short of its wide-screen potential, tracks such as the lilting manic waltz, 'Dancing With Strangers', does indeed reach the heights, especially when Stangroom howls like a broken hearted Pagliacca. In a completely different style, 'Blinded' shimmies with a Bosa Nova beat and carries the album's most accomplished arrangement of percussion, horns and vocals. As with their dark hearted but tre romantic cabaret lounge gigs, the parade comes to end with the _'Theme From Smokehand', an insane Teutonic, bass-slapping romp, backed by an asylum-grade mass chorus.
Recommended for those with a penchant for high-drama heartbreak and a touch of laudanum wasted elegance.
7Jane Oriel's Score