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Scottish group retools
decades-old post-punk

The Cinematics - Love and Terror
(Orchard Enterprises)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 13, 2009
The Cinematics

Review by Tony Bonyata

Following in the footsteps of like-minded rock contemporaries such as The Editors, Bloc Party, The Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand, the Glasgow quartet The Cinematics specialize in the retro post-punk of the early '80s. And like many of their aforementioned peers, the music on The Cinematics' sophomore album, Love and Terror, is every bit as pleasing as it is easy to peg down.

Not long after the local Scottish success of their 2007 debut full-length, A Strange Education, and with the world market clearly in their sights, their label TVT Records (one of the country's longstanding and well-respected indie imprints) filed for bankruptcy leaving the band without a clear strategy for the future. Foraging ahead, the foursome took it upon themselves to record their follow-up record on their own without label support, before personnel changes also ensued, as original guitarist Ramsey Miller was replaced by current member Larry Reid.

Thankfully, TVT's assets were picked up by the NY-based digital distribution company Orchard Entertainment in a 2008 auction. While the majority of TVT's most recent roster had been dropped by the new company, they held tight to The Cinematics' contract after hearing the new material that the band delivered. And judging from the music that fills out Love and Terror, which taps into the darker, new wave pop of the '80s that's been in vogue since the turn of the last decade, it was probably a sound gamble - even if the band has yet to really make any impact in the U.S. and Europe.

Despite many of the songs lacking any true spark of originality, the familiar territories they cover are all solidly played out. The title track marries the dark and slippery bassline from Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" with some of the upbeat new wave pop of '80 Scottish popper's Big Country (primarily thanks to Reid's sparkling electric guitar textures). The track "She Talks To The Trees" hearkens back to the angular post-punk and anglo-funk outfits Gang of Four and Wire, while "New Mexico" is a nice melding of rather dated new wave synth pop and the edgier sounds of the English indie band Bloc Party (mostly due to frontman's Scott Rinning's soulful guttural vocal delivery).

Far from a revelation, The Cinematics, nonetheless, are capable of digging up decades-old underground music and retooling the nostalgia into a satisfyingly modern platter.

Related articles:

The Cinematics - A Strange Education - Album review

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