Bristol Archive Records Blog

Fear of Darkness Album Review ‘Phobia’



(Bristol Archive Records)


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I always enjoyed this band live, like a feckless brother act to the sterner, darker Music For Pleasure, and there’s evidence aplenty of their melodic qualities on this retrospective, which Mike Darby has put out (his brother Neil being in the band) during his impressive work chronicling bands form the various Bristol indie scenes. He’s even extricated part of an old gig review of mine (…. Incisively pretty, with a polished veneer of pop-rock which needs an urgent sandpapering for full effectiveness, Fear of Darkness unveil a set positively burning with possibilities; not too long, not too repetitive, soft but leanly energetic. I admired the taut control, as it included regular doses of camouflaged fire and dirt for all their lightly flashy look. I like the disclaimed lonely chuckles and would recommend you heave your enormous buttocks down to the Timebox in early October. In fact the only thing I didn’t go for was the penchant for pointy boots. That’s Shoe Business – Melody Maker, 1987) Always the puns, eh?

Anyway, the record comes steeped in 80’s stodginess, which they do try and fight their way through. ‘Lay Me Down’ catches them wielding vocals following the classy Psy Furs blueprint, and that sub-stadium cool, with guitar inserted by tweezers, sounds a little weird now, while live they were more naturally tenacious. ‘Friends Like You’ is quieter, ‘Just Another Day’ moodier, but it’s all very precise, the melodical mane tossed and imperious. ‘Not For Love Nor Money’ is thoughtful, nagging pop which saunters through its own doldrums, while ‘She Said’ sounds all grown up, and the rigidity to these studio recordings that sums up the late 80’s, also brings some Jim Kerr stateliness into the vocals.

 ‘Shut Up’ seems happy in its Duranny ‘Reflex’ pomp, ‘True’ is positively laidback, like some credible Spandau aftershock, but it’s a shame ‘So Cold’ lumbers around as there’s more heartfelt emotional woes here. ‘Talk To Me’ follows that feel, with a sombre flair, then ‘It’s My Nature’ finishes, twice, including a ‘Phobia Mix’, and it’s a gently thoughtful piece, almost fighting against itself. Retrospectives often perform a real service, and it’s good this band have their own release. They burnt out at their leisure, but did so with style. (Neil and Angela then went on to the more Indie pop stylings of Love Jungle, and are apparently working together again. She was a bit mental, so that could be

interesting too.)

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