Mekons Journey to the End of the Night (Quarterstick)

SXSW Records

Mekons

Journey to the End of the Night (Quarterstick)

New albums from the Mekons, which thankfully seem to appear on a more frequent basis these days, are always an adventure. With that as a given, Journey to the End of the Night, their 20th long player, still comes as a surprise. It's surely the band's most accessible work in years, filled with pensive ballads, atmospheric soliloquies, and moody reggae grooves. Though they never truly rage and rock, beneath it all stirs a dense, dark heart. The album's title is taken from a 1932 novel written by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, one of France's most important 20th-century writers, which is appropriate for a band known for its rabble-rouser ways; the tome was shocking and revolutionary for its time, and it's been credited with redefining the art of the novel thanks to its black humor, nihilism, and irreverent, explosive writing style. In that light, the enigmatic attitude and seductive ambience that constitute Journey to the End of the Night's most attractive elements and the hallucinatory, or perhaps more appropriately drunken, lyrics connect in a remarkable way. The effective commingling of vocals from Sally Timms, Tom Greenlaugh, Jon Langford, and Rico Bell, sturdy support from Steve Goulding, Suzie Honeyman, Sarah Corina, and Lu Edmonds, and heavenly guest appearances from Kelly Hogan, Neko Case, and Edith Frost, all amount to an unexpected yet potent collection of songs. The Mekons have done it again, long may they reign. (Saturday, Antone's, 1am)

****

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