Given the hype surrounding this album – it was originally released by the record label of Assemblage 23’s Tom Shear before being picked up by Metropolis Records – it’s actually a bit disappointing. “Conquest” has some nice atmospheric string pads going for it, and “Heaven’s Isolation” is gorgeously moody, with fuzzy retro analog sounds that kick into a more modern, trance-inspired chorus with soaring back-up vocals, but the rest of the CD, though well-produced, is really a bit bland. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course; songs like “The Land of Make-Believe” and “Disposable” merge club-friendly dance beats and relatively melodic synthpop-styled vocals, and the arrangements and vocal production are slick throughout. Apart from the aforementioned “Heaven’s Isolation,” though, the best you can really say about Backandtotheleft is that they’re competent, and there are a few songs on here that aren’t even that. “Imperfection,” for example, sounds nice in a melancholy VNV Nation ballad kind of way until you listen to the lyrics; with overwrought lines like “We can’t keep from drowning in the sea of sadness,” it’s like Morrissey without the wittiness. Vocalist Darren Miller’s baritone is again workmanlike but never outstanding, and shines best when supported by backing tracks added in the studio, with opening track “Misstep” being a particularly good example. On the new Metropolis Records version, Tom Shear makes an appearance with a bonus remix not available on the original release of the album, but unless you’re an obsessive Assemblage 23 collector, you’re still better off waiting for their next album instead of picking this up.
Go to www.battl.info for more information.
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