My Midnight Things
Metal Blade Records - 2018
After an 11 year hiatus between studio albums, Lizzy Borden (both the singer and the band) surprised the metal world when this new album was announced. As a fan of the Visual Lies and Master Of Disguise albums in particular and having written about Give 'Em The Axe and Menace To Society, it is safe to say that I'm a fan of the band. So when the album was announced, I was pretty stoked.
Those flames of fandom were stoked even higher when the lyric video for the title track was released because the "My Midnight Things" song is flat out amazing. It's not much of a surprising statement to say that Lizzy Borden is one of the prime purveyors of theatrical rock but with the title track opening the album, that sense of the theatrical and the sensational vocal take immediately meld into something that manages to take the listener by surprise with how good it sounds. And lyrically, the song is pretty strong. The entire album is pretty verbose lyrically, but on this song the lyrics seem to set up the entire premise or at least feel of the album. I particularly enjoyed the line "I want the flames / I want the fire / I want all that I desire / I want to live in the dream of my midnight things". The song is a breathless rocker and the two word phrase "midnight things" seems pretty key as it shows up in two other songs on the album, not including the reprise of "My Midnight Things". That version of the song features the track played as more of a ballad with just the spare instrumentation of the piano and keyboard accompanying Borden's vocal. I may not always like alternate versions of the same song but this one was so different that it really worked its magic on me. I know it will probably be forgotten in many a year's end lists but the "My Midnight Things" song is one of the best of 2018.
I don't know if I'm reading too much into the song "Obsessed With You" but when I listened to it, I thought the way the song was split between a slower, calmer feel in the main passages and then revved up during the chorus was a deliberate attempt to sonically illustrate the duality of an obsessive's mind...calm during certain moments but in the grip of that obsession's frenzy when the opportunity presents itself. Borden crooned during the slower portions of the song and then the more metallic attack. Unfortunately, it was the slower parts of the song that did nothing for me and the way the word "obsessed" was sung in the chorus just struck me as a horrid decision.
Of course then you have a song like "Long May They Haunt Us". The hard driving rocker weds the more melodic side of Borden's sound with the heavier metallic bent perfectly.
Going back to the strength of the lyrics on the album for a minute, the song "A Stranger To Love" not only features an aggressive tone running as an undercurrent throughout the song but just about kills lyrically too. The opening couplet of "We are shadows all of us / we are savage wanderlust" was strikingly noteworthy to my ears and things just keep getting better throughout the performance.
I wish I could say that about the entirety of the album, but the superbly titled "The Scar Across My Heart" finds the vocals so buried in the mix that you almost have to dig them out to hear what is being sung. It became such a distraction to me as to really wipe out my interest in the song. I had similar issues with "The Perfect Poison". The way the song started out left me pretty cold and despite the slower tempo being abandoned for a more fiery delivery later in the song, it wasn't enough to completely overcome my initial distaste. As for "Run Away With Me", there's no need to be overly wordy here...I just didn't care for the song.
However, the album does close out on a double shot of high quality rock and roll (broken up by that reprise of "My Midnight Things") with "We Belong To The Shadows", a lively shot of adrenaline that brings about the conclusion of the album. Before that you have one of the other standout tracks in "Our Love Is God". If you immediately think this is some sort of ballad, you'd be completely wrong. The viciously intense delivery is aggressive throughout and lyrically it grabs your ears with malice aforethought.
When you check out the liner notes for the album, those last two songs are facing a marvelous bit of art design featuring yet another look for Lizzy Borden himself. The art design for the entire package is visually striking which again, given the prior track record for the Lizzy Borden band, isn't all that surprising. But it is nice to see that they can still bring that attention to their visual representation as well as their music.
I do wish there had been less in the way of material that I felt didn't quite rise to the challenge that the best of the cuts set the standard for but I'm sure that is just my own personal desires rather than an actual lack in overall quality from the band.
Borden wrote all the material for the album and he played most of the instruments (except for the drums by Joey Scott, who also co-produced the album with Borden), so there's no doubt that this is his album. Whether you think this would make it more of a solo album for him or take it as billed for the band, what you can't deny is that when the band hits the mark just right, My Midnight Things is another example of just how good (and universally underrappreciated) Lizzy Borden can be.