Review by: Sophie Ward
Pere Ubu give a very distinctive first impression. Since their arrival in the 70s they have been blowing fuses with their jolting, energetic sound from new wave guitars. Even after a single listen, it is difficult to forget them in a hurry. Let us not forget this is a post-punk band that have exceeded both their given genre and their chosen style. I’ve been informed that the Pere Ubu you find on Carnival of Souls isn’t the same band you’ll find on anything else they’ve ever done. Which is great. It examples the amount of range a punk band should have. Their latest album goes further giving fans speedy sounds to tracks fuelled with weightlessness, not forgetting noir riffs, pounding drums and catchy grooves.
Opening with the stiff stabbing in ‘Golden Surf II’ you will hear discordant, dissonant crashes and electronic squeals which roughly colour-in the album’s intensity from the get-go. Leaving no breathing room before the powerful ‘Drag The River,’ you will allow cymbal crashes and disturbing and deranged poetry to seep into your mind.
‘Visions of the Moon’ makes you feel like you have been on some sort of acid trip. Not a feeling that changes after a listen to the scraping, grinding and chopping heard in ‘Bus Station.’ I would hate to be clichéd but the album is a little weird, in a good way. It’s different as you go from feeling like you have been inside a washing machine to feeling haunted on ‘Road To Utah’ and ‘Carnival,’ the latter giving you unusual yet familiar sound bites from a fair giving a sense of what it would be like to be in a psychedelic eerie horror film.
Then Pere Ubu give you something totally different once more, with their lullaby ‘Irene,’ which reeks of despair and loneliness and contrasting acceptance and assurance: “I put a spell on you because you’re mine… You will say you love me and I will say it’s all gonna go wrong, not gonna turn out very well at all”. It is followed up by ‘Brother Ray,’ a flash of rare beauty on an album that tries its best to blanket its entire contents with moments of mist and gloom.
Carnival of Sounds plays like product of machines composed as human beings rather than actual humans playing instruments. There is an increased presence of an electronic side. After being a part of the music biz for over 30 years, you have to admit they have a spirit to be admired. As much as you assume this album examples their sheer bizarreness, it does not undermine their brilliance.