Critically lauded but largely ignored, the home demo lp from Kyle and Neil saw them expand their musical horizons to take on everything from Coca Cola to the destruction of an entire country. Voted one of the albums of the year by Mick Mercer [Gothic Rock Book].
Review by Darkest Jack
Brilliant Life is the first full release by the English band The Stripper Project. It follows the EPs, Reasons Not To Go To Work and Filthy Wonderful. Fronted by the former vocalist from the wonderful Dark Alternative band Children on Stun, Neil Ash. Neil is joined by his partner in crime, Kyle Whipp (Bassist from Children on Stun). This duo is taking chances and trying new sounds. Not letting itself stagnate or get pigeonholed into any specific sound. Blending an almost pop sound with intelligent and dark lyrics. This is an album one must listen to many times to catch all the layers and meanings in each song.
The album kicks off with the track "The Back of the Cemetery". A catchy track that has a wonderful duality. An upbeat melody is the first thing that hits you, but when the lyrics get to you the darkness is apparent. Reminds me a small bit of Echo and the Bunnymen. This "poppy" darkness and duality is best shown off in the track "I'm Ebola". The brilliant lyrics also take center stage here. With a chorus like: "I'm coming up on you like cold hearted killer, sweeter than a sugar in a coca cola, you're my Frankenstein, you're the flu and I'm Ebola, misanthrope with a heart of a valentine, you be Israel I'll be Palestine, and we can get on fine, you're the flu I'm Ebola" one can easily see the high level of intelligence here. Intelligence mixed with a bit of insanity.
As mentioned earlier this album doesn't stagnate on the same sound. The next track, "Wondergirl" proves that as the sound takes on more of a cold '80s synth sound. A twisted glamor photo shoot fantasy. Neil Ash's voice changes and goes to another place and style completely here. Kyle Whipp adds his vocal stylings to the darkest most post-punk sounding track "I Am Twisted Bird". The title track "My Brilliant Life" returns to the pop"ish" sound with a nice sense of sarcasm in the lyrics. "When the sun's coming up, I guess I'll walk you home, If you like the smell of chicks and methadone." It's upbeat rock with a great hook and not hollow or vacuous. There is no reason this song should not be on the charts. Except that it's NOT hollow or vacuous like most chart toppers.
"Fist Full of Flowers" is as catchy as "My Brilliant Life" and "I'm Ebola" but with a darker almost goth club sound. With it's driving base-line and synth infused melody. It's the forerunner for my favorite track on the album. Then you've got a song like "Autumn Leaves". Epic and huge it brings together a multitude of styles shown earlier in the album. Powerful words like "This spirit could kill you if you let it, lips meeting in the dark, and you could try and beg the wind not to blow, leave me shaking like an addict, that would be delightfully divine" are capped with lines from the Charles Bukowski's poem `The genius of the crowd'. The album closes with the cold, distant and left of center song "I Destroy Japan". Finishing the album in almost a dream-like state.
Brilliant Life is a must have album. Not only for those in the Dark Alternative scene but for anyone who like smart, catchy, and fresh music. I am hard pressed to find faults with this album. Some tracks standout more then others. "Back of the Cemetery", I'm Ebola", "Wonder Girl", "My Brilliant Life", "Fist Full of Flowers", and "Autumn Leaves" being those stand outs. However, that being said, the other tracks "Princess", "Nightsurfing", "I Am Twisted Bird", and "I Destroy Japan" are just as sharp and clever on a more sublime level. Each song on this album is it's own journey with it's own sound. Yet the band has it's own cohesive sound that holds the tracks together. This album is one that never gets boring or "more of the same" sounding. The Stripper Project is a standout band in the new wave of Dark Alternative artists. They aren't afraid to go to new places, try new styles, or be clever. I am very excited to see where they go next. The Stripper Project are defiantly leading a "Brilliant Life".
4 1/2 out of 5