English darkwave veterans venture out to deliver a travelogue of a dangerous, if not frightening, mind trip.
A study of alienation seems to be a means of progress for this Nottinghamshire ensemble – always been, from their 1982 hit “Nowhere Girl” on, through a 22-year hiatus and the 2012 comeback which has resulted in two albums now. A new version of the band’s signature song is tagged to the end of a second one in no less than four mixes, one coming from a mash-up of the Mansfield men’s contemporaries DIE KRUPPS with LEÆTHER STRIP – a sign of Steve Hovington’s influence – but it’s a mere grounding footnote for the “Climate Of Fear” context.
As depressive as the record may feel on the surface, most pieces’ despondency is rooted in nostalgia, and not for nothing the sleek rocking of “San Francisco” desperately suggests – referring to a Scott McKenzie classic – that people no longer wear flowers in their hair down there. There’s a cynical but fairly realistic view unfolding once the beats have fleshed out the sinister rumble of Hovington’s bass in “Another False Dawn” for his deadpan voice to delve into life’s injustices, yet guitars weaving in and out of a dancefloor assault add an emotional layer to it all.
Depicting a personal rift in the likes of “Forgotten Souls” where electro-pop patterns get behind acoustic instruments, Steve still calls out for a degree of intimacy in the defiant jangle of “Come Closer” whose multiple layers boil down to a lonely piano along the way, while “Corridors” throbs ahead in a motorik fashion, although not as infectiously as the pulsing title track – the only playful cut on display, undermining the overall gloomy mood, as does “A Girl & A Gun” with its wild organ. So if the tight “Feeling Gothic” is an urban riff-riding reverie, it’s a very tongue-in-cheek proposition, rendering “Climate Of Fear” a a film noir: quite fitting for this group. A solid dream.