Arthouse-inspired rock outfit Thirsty – primarily a collaboration between Quireboys founding member Guy Bailey and Russian poet Irina D. – have created another multi-faceted and thought-provoking ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ with the occasional ethereal touch seeping through.

Yes, ‘Albatross’ (which marks Thirsty’s second album) is inspired by Samuel T. Coleridge’s famous poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. Also aboard are ex-Quireboys Chris Johnstone on keyboards and bass, Squeeze/Death in Vegas drummer Simon Hanson, and Saint Jude’s Lynne Jackaman on backing vocals. Oh, and Stones producer Chris Kimsey added the finishing touches.

As for the title track (which is also the album’s opener): It’s not only one of Irina Ds’ favourite poems but anyone acquainted with it will realise that it lends itself to all sorts of re-interpretations… and that’s the keyword here, for ‘The Albatross’ sounds nothing like one might expect it to sound. No echoes of a marine-inspired ditty here. Instead, t’s all rather organic and riff-orientated. With Guy’s fine guitar skills and raspy voice at the forefront, the song rocks to a mighty cool rhythm rather than floating along at reflective pace.

“I am ‘Chaos’, pleased to meet you, Ma’am. I am your chance to throw the dice…” Was the devil at work here? Might well be the case… great hooks and an all round scorching vibe turn this chaos into a highly pleasurable experience.
As for the next literary inspiration (in this case Virginia Woolf): ‘Orlando’ touches on a bit of gender-bending/gender confusion and also on time travel. Great backing vocals and inspired lyrics by Irina!

The relatively laid-back and stripped-down arrangement of ‘Say it Ain’t So’ – with lyrics and music by Chris Johnstone – belies the track’s darker tone and the resulting contrast works surprisingly well.

A punchy beat and tongue-in-cheek play on words – plus some fab vocal teamwork combined with punctuated riffs and complementary keys - nicely pad out the 3+ minutes of ‘Black Hole’.
After a bit of gambling during ‘Va Banque’ we sail on to my favourite track of the album – ‘Shore of Light’. Excellent lyrics (“And the shutters they crash / the wind she moans like a whore / and the TV next door won’t leave me alone / while I watch you sleep…”) are perfectly placed atop this catchy rock ballad.

‘Cosmic Aphrodite’ sees Irina at the vocal forefront and here it’s Guy who steps back and delivers the backing. Somehow this reminds of a duet between Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, albeit more mysterious and poetic.
Closing track ‘Patriotic Little Trash’ will mean different things to different folks and that’s how it should be. Slightly bloozy and rough-round-the-edges, it leaves you with a certain aftertaste but actually, you want to taste more… so let’s hope that Thirsty will present us with their third album sooner rather than later.

(Please read my interview with the band in the INTERVIEWS section)