The fact that Lizzy Borden hadn’t released a record in 11 years was a fact that had passed me by, but nonetheless, it is still incredible to note how time passes.
I’d first come across Borden – and his incredible vocals – back in the late 1980s when as a kid I was in the thrall of Alice Cooper (who had just released “Trash”) and set about looking for all the other “shock” rockers I could find.
No internet in those days – kids its true! – so we had to get down to the library and get out records for a week. I picked up a vinyl of Borden’s “Love You To Pieces” and was hooked.
I mention that story not to turn MV into some kind of “All Our Yesterdays” section, but because it is a very similar story 30 years on that saw “My Midnight Things” get made.
According to the man himself, he noticed the ages of his crowds last year on tour and that set him off: “I looked out to see all these kids in every country singing at the top of their lungs to songs that were written before they were born, and that made me want to start writing some full-blown albums just for them. I wanted to make songs that would be theirs, albums that they could be a part of.”
Which brings us to “…Things”. A kind of concept album. The theme of all the songs being love. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking (I thought the same) “who needs an album about love, for goodness sake?” except this is a Lizzy Borden album about love, and the lyrics here aren’t gonna get on too many Hallmark Valentines Cards.
The main thing about these, urrmm, things though, is that although the record is being pitched at a modern audience, Borden – who constructed these songs alone – isn’t remotely interested in sounding like some bloke from the last century searching for relevance. Instead, it sounds like Lizzy Borden.
To that end, the title track which starts things, has all the bombast of AOR, all the harmonies of Queen (that is a feature of most of the songs) and the feel of something that could have cheerfully been on Bon Jovi’s second album (a compliment on these pages….).
“Obsessed With You” as well as being a piece of real, stomping rock is more metal tinged with its chug and a little bit more sinister. “Long May They Haunt Us” is absolutely unashamed to sound like it came out in 1985, with its fists in the air and superb chorus. It will be a panacea to people who – like a friend of mine – refuse point blank to listen to anything new, unless, that is, it sounds like its not new at all.
Much of “…Things” has an incessant quality, with many driven by the keyboards, mostly played by Marliese Quance Mildenberger (Borden handles all the instruments elsewhere except drums) and one of the best examples of this is perhaps the soaring “The Scar Across My Heart”.
“A Stranger To Love” glams it up to the max, and sounds like a ready made anthem for the kids at the shows – hell, there’s even a bit where the lyrics go “everybody scream it loud”. Perhaps because of this it has a way of sounding effortlessly epic, as on “The Perfect Poison” which is an exercise in light and shade as good as any.
Even the ballad “Run Away With Me” has no interest in being demur, and if “Our Love Is God” is darker and more industrial in feel, it nonetheless fits the record well.
The reprise of the title track is a little throwaway in the context of what else is here but is quickly forgotten as “We Belong To The Shadows” is a wonderful slice of radio friendly rock.
“My Midnight Things” is the sound of an artist invigorated. It might be 11 years since his last one, but it’s a lot longer since Lizzy Borden sounded this good.