Album Review by Mark Bayross
As most people know, Tony Wilson may be a man of questionable business sense, but he can’t be faulted on taste. Before the Happy Mondays and New Order, even before Joy Division, his Factory Records label boasted The Durutti Column as its main act. And even after the epoch-making success of the aforementioned acts, it was still The Durutti Column that Wilson considered the jewel in Factory’s crown.
Named, depending how you look at it, after an anarchist movement during the Spanish Civil War, the 60s Strasbourg-based Situationists International and a comic strip, the band quickly grew beyond Wilson’s expectations to became the creative outlet for the almost terminally shy (and impossibly thin) guitar maestro Vini Reilly. Although he is ever unlikely to reach an audience beyond his base of avid fans (partly on account of his legendary awkwardness), Reilly has continued to make music of epic yet idiosyncratic melancholy with impressive frequency.
Following 2001’s REBELLION album, SOMEONE ELSE’S PARTY is the result of Reilly experiencing his mother falling ill and dying. Hardly a jolly chap at the best of times, the fact that he is devastated by this loss couldn’t be more evident throughout the album’s 14 tracks.
Nevertheless, even with its fervent soul-baring, this is a far from alienating listen. From the stop-start loops of the opening LOVE IS A FRIEND, this is a feast of innovative sounds and interesting textures. Recorded on eight-track and shot through with found sounds, the album is dominated by Reilly’s echoey vocals, his virtuoso guitar playing and shimmering electronics.
There are also moments of stunning beauty, such as the haunting SPANISH LAMENT, which comes close to some of Lisa Gerrard’s epic moments, and the Spanish guitar and swirling electronics of VIGIL, while the rockier NO MORE HURT lends a cathartic counter-balance.
Despite the sadness throughout this record (see the tragic DRINKING TIME, with its chorus of “Why do you do this? / There’s easier ways to die”, if you need further convincing), it does seem to end on a happier note with children singing on WOMAN and birds on the closing GOODBYE, although the recording of his mother’s voice at the very end can’t fail to move you.
Don’t be put off by the intensely personal nature of this album – it never fails to hold the interest and has moments of sonic magnificence – and its theme of love and loss is one with which we can all identify.