The Blue Angel Lounge are undoubtedly brave, on paper at least. Narcotica, in today's synth and grunge led climate, seems ambitious to say the least when considering that producing the forty five minute record is none other than Anton Newcombe, enigmatic and controversial frontman of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Whilst an undoubted genius in his field, it could be taken as a gamble to employ such a man to master and effectively personalise the all important second album of a band on the cusp of widespread acclaim. It is fortunate then that the appointment is an absolute masterstroke, inspiring a brave, aspirational album which infuses sombre shoegaze with a menacing undertone. There is an understated urgency to the album, with opening track 'Narcotica' near instrumental in its delivery, the atmospheric murmur of voices building a sinister introduction to the Nico influenced 'Caught Crow'.

'Bewitch My Senses' is distinctly epic, building into a dreamy crescendo through the consistent dialogue with the 60s strings, giving it a somewhat timeless quality, whilst 'Corona' remains self-consciously contemporary through the soaring range of front man Nils Ottenmeyer. The track epitomises Narcotica, surmising the title as it wanders through the distorted influences of The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine. Newcombe's barely perceptible backing on 'Delete My Ideals' sustains a brooding intensity, with the dramatic chord changes a quickly established theme to the record. It is refreshing in tracks such as 'Secure Existence' to enjoy a band going off on a creative tangent with the result being a distinctive, fascinating song, rather than to hear a fresh band diluting their sound to appeal to the widest audience possible.

By recording the album in just two weeks, there is a clearly defined logicality to the collection, as the sound blends to form an intriguing template of a band apparently ill at ease with 'settling', posturing throughout the album to potentially push the genre beyond it's capabilities. 'Son of the Ocean' more than touches on self-indulgence, with the lack of development leading the song down a blind alley as it fails to amount to anything. By the closing track, 'I Will Never', about the syntactically tricky concept of 'oosing feelings' (not a spelling mistake!), the record begins to drag and it is all too tempting to come up for air, but by then the glorious damage has been done; you leave the experience a melancholy wretch.

Narcotica is not for the light hearted, but to the patient ear it offers a reflective and mature sound, not as a record to pick and mix singles from, but rather to totally embrace and immerse oneself in, saluting a past hedonism whilst firmly celebrating the present.

Photobucket