Now, with that being said, even here I’m going to be skipping a ton of names, because let’s be honest, the HAPPY MONDAYS or TAKE THAT wouldn’t quite fit in with what I’m trying to portray here. We want the melancholy; we want the tortured poets that pioneered genres, and inspired countless kids to pick up instruments. Manchester has these in droves, whether it’s past icons like JOY DIVISION or THE SMITHS...or more recent breakout bands like PALE WAVES and IST IST...Manchester bands love their music and lyricism soaked in misery, as that working-class industrialised backdrop allows for a special kind of up-beat negativity in music. It’s a special place Manchester...and there’s no place quite like it...only...there actually is.
Baring all of that in mind, today what we’re actually going to be doing, is focussing on a city called Mulhouse, in the Alsace region on far-Eastern France, which, funnily enough, is called “The French Manchester”. I guess you could say, Franchester? Look, I don’t want to risk being stabbed with a baguette, OK? An industrial city practically on Germany’s doorstep we’re that far East, it houses today’s band, and arguably my discovery of the year; SEXBLOOD.
Saying I’ve discovered sex blood isn’t something I’m comfortable with on the internet, and googling them is questionable at best (The FBI guy spying through my webcam must absolutely hate me) but this group of post-punk / Goth revivalists, consisting of guitarist/vocalist (Also studio drummer) Abel De Beauvoir, synth-maestro Sybil Viola and bassist Demon VI, have unleashed their début album in 2022, entitled “Teach Me To Cry”. The question is, will this review make them cry happy tears? Or tears of utter despair? Let’s find out...
The album opens up with “Silent Hill” and great, from the word go I’ve got to contend with Pyramid Head? Can I at least finish this review before I get violently butchered to death? I digress...the track begins with a sense of, Eastern-inspired guitar tone, before we delve into the more expected, bass-rich, post-punk aesthetic that could easily come right out of the FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM / SISTERS OF MERCY textbook. They’ve taken great care to sound not only nostalgic but authentic...not that the band AREN’T but, their sound, it’s so accurate.
This is only hammered home on follow up track and album highlight number one “Black Rain”, and by highlight number one I mean exactly that; we’ve got plenty to enjoy here. The track itself initially opens with some distortion delay but we soon get straight into those up-beat, 80’s vibes, that easily house the likes of the aforementioned Sisters, but, KILLING JOKE and THE CURE too. From Abel’s deeper vocal drawl, the dance-along vibes of the instrumentation, the combination of jovial keys and light guitar tones with darker, deeper lyrics and a sense of foreboding; this is incredible.
The only thing stopping this being the albums top track is the outro, with its sort of, B-Movie drama segment, rounding things off. It’s unnecessary, to the point it actively spoils the track. You might think, ok, maybe in the music video it makes sense with the narrative, but no, even that’s black screen and nothingness. They tried something and it didn’t work, but let’s not let that take away from this album as a whole.
The album’s highlight for sure, has to go to “Sleeping Angel”...which, quite simply gets everything right. The clap-along percussion, the sensual, rhythmic movement of the track as it flows, the positivity in the keys as they pierce the track like the brightest moon on the darkest night, almost guiding the despair, it’s genuinely beautiful and this could easily be at home on any Sisters’ record it’s that good. Tracks like “Soultrap” and “Holodomor” maintain these elements as they balance the depth of Abel’s vocal huskiness in places, with a polished instrumental counter. “Bad Priest” as a closing track is a real up-tempo number, based in mistrust and being let down by those you look up to, but it couldn’t sound any more encouraging and dance-happy if it could. Detrimental to the core message perhaps? Possibly...but it’s catchy as shit.
If there’s anything negative to take from this record it’s “Bloodshift”...and that’s purely because, as an instrumental piece, an interlude if you will, it comes out of the blue and somewhat spoils the flow of the album. If anywhere I’d have used it as an intro segue into the album but even then, it’s a nothing-track...
Ultimately, today we have learned that France has its own Manchester, that faux Manchester has its own post-punk scene and SEXBLOOD are easily at the forefront. To some it may sound dated, but that’s why it’s so damn good! You don’t get many bands peddling these wares nowadays and SEXBLOOD do it effortlessly. This is a nostalgia trip for Gothic genre lovers, and “Teach Me To Cry” brought happy tears to MY eyes...and I’m grateful for losing my SEXBLOOD virginity. Oh wait....Ohhhhh OK I get it. You gone done popped my cherry you French fucks...