The best albums have a linking theme be it a musical style or a topic – I’m not talking concept album here – the best songs leave you wanting to hear them again and the best stories leave you wanting to know more about the characters and their back stories, sometimes moreso than the story itself. ‘Bones In the Closet’ is the trifecta.
12 songs in styles varying from Western to 60’s Garage to Mexicali-surf to outright black-hearted balladry and every one telling a story that draws you in and tells you just enough to start imagining the rest of the tale and the back story. If Tarantino hadn’t moved into niche themes like ‘Kill Bill’ this album would make a portmanteau of stories beyond anything he has done so far. Of course, it wouldn’t be any good if the guys couldn’t play but they are superb musicians and songwriters and this is one of the most listenable albums I’ve heard in years.
‘Gallows Bird’ kicks it off with a huge drum break and into Mexican style horns before the impassioned vocal comes in to proclaim “My day is done, my race is run, my gallows swing beneath the sun”. They throw in some Dick Dale style surf guitar and the horns carry it all aong and after 3 minutes 47 you are exhausted with the desperation in the lyrics and the power in the music – this is a movie in less than four minutes. They follow up with ‘Misery And Woe’ which is exactly as the title suggests. Again you get the huge soundscape and all the passion of a man on the edge of death but it leads you into ‘Dead World’ and that is the song I keep playing time and again; 3 and a half minutes of garage-punk-psych – the song the 13th Floor Elevators should have made and they have even thrown in the Farfisa organ to the mix. Did I say that every song was a gem? Next up is ‘John McMiller’: a little tale of a hitman hanging up his weapons and retiring! The hits just keep on coming, every one different and every one worth listening to again and again to find the little nuances they have hidden away. ‘Times Of Trial’ is a huge tale of desperation and and then there is ‘Bones In The Closet’ itself and ‘Two Headed Horseman’ and the utterly wonderful ‘Lost Highway Motel’ with a cast of characters that are a series on their own. They even take the time to write a paean to the greatest muscle car ever made ’69 Camaro’. ‘Johnny’s Song’ is a love story but you have to listen to understand what kind of love song and finally ‘Sixty Seconds To What?’ – the theme to the greatest Spaghetti Western never made.
What is even more incredible is that this isn’t by Nick Cave or Dan Sartain – these guys are Norwegian! Proof that music is truly international and boundless.
This is one for all the Coen Brothers or Taratino or Peckinpah fans out there – movies you can listen to time and again..