Suzi Stapleton – We Are The Plague – Album Review
“We Are The Plague” declares Suzie Stapleton over the anthemic, fuzzed-out bass line that opens the acclaimed scribe and alternative alchemist’s extraordinary debut album. It is a rallying cry, a howl into the abyss, the defiant call of a generation sold down the river and acutely aware of its own imminent demise.
Suzi Stapleton releases her debut album, the prophetically titled “We are the Plague” on 31st July on Negative Prophet records distributed via Cargo Records. Written before there was even a whisper of a global pandemic this album features the previously released singles “Thylacine” (September 2019) and “Blood on the Windscreen” (March 2020) along with another 11 tracks all written and produced by Suzi, and mixed by Dan Cox (Thurston Moore/Laura Marling/Pete Doherty) at London’s Urchin Studios.
Suzi, Australian-born and now living in the UK, locked herself away in 2018, in a Brighton flat furnished with nothing more than a freecycle bed and fridge to write the songs that feature on the album. These bleak surroundings void of distractions proved a fertile ground for creativity. Suzi conjured a collection of poetic and textured songs that formed a deep, dark pool to draw from when rehearsals started that autumn with the band in London. The Band, Gavin Jay (Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind), on Bass, and Jim Macaulay (The Stranglers), on Drums, provide a solid, seething backbone for Suzi’s vocals and guitars on an album that swings from alternative rock to gothic-blues through to alt-folk.
Suzi draws on her background in audio-engineering to create a sound that defies the limitations of the humble 3-piece. In addition to Guitar, Suzi adds Piano and violin to fill out the soundscapes, and long time collaborator, cellist Gareth Skinner from Melbourne, adds to the overall lushness of this record.
Is this an easy listen, something you stick on the stereo while doing the washing up? No, far from it. This is an album that requires the listener to sit down and immerse themselves in the experience, allowing the songs to take them on a journey of thought and reflection. Title track and latest single “We Are The Plague” opens with a pulsating, doom-ridden bass riff, before Suzi’s husky, haunting vocal, half-sung, half-spoken, kicks in. ”We Are The Plague, we are the infection” she sings, a dark and damning comment on the state of humanity today, as apocalyptic guitars close out the track. The mood of this album, whilst being darkly gothic has moments of near-light-heartedness. “September” is quite flirtatious with an urgent, imploring vocal – “come and lie next to me/We don’t have to do anything” binging a touch of light to the album.
Suzi doesn’t just write songs, she crafts them, shapes them, moulds them into exquisite sonic tapestries that reward the attentive listener with layers of complexity and richness that seep into the dark recesses of the soul. From the driving rhythms of “Blood on the Windscreen” to the haunting desolation of “Don’t Look up” and the sparseness of “The River Song”, there are depths to e discovered in ever track and, like a fine wine that develops as it ages, “We Are The Plague” reveals nuances and new layers the more it is listened to.
“We Are The Plague” has all the hallmarks of a great album and will surely feature in a lot of Top Albums lists come the end of the year.
Suzie Stapleton – We Are The Plague – Track Listing:
- We Are The Plague
- Blood On The Windscreen
- Don’t Look Up
- The River Song
- Angel Speak
- You Were There
- In The Darkness
- Silence In My Bones
- Negative Prophet
Pre-Order the album on CD / LP / digital / via www.suziestapleton.com
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