William Control is apparently the lead singer of a band called Aiden, a group I’ve yet to have the pleasure of, but after this album I’m at least curious enough to have a listen. An official press release compares his solo career – this being album number two therein – to the classic likes of New Order, David Bowie, Ministry, Skinny Puppy and Bauhaus, and the not-quite-so-classic likes of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails. And for the most part such comparisons seem fairly justified…though the sound here is ultimately closer to the EBM and Electroclash movements that these acts went on to inspire.
A Smiths comparison may be pushing the friendship a little: The acoustic-y track “Soliloquy” may be a tiny bit Marr-ish musically, but Morrissey this boy ain’t, lyrically or vocally. In the latter department Mr. Control actually reminds me, for some strange reason or other, of former Wall Of Voodoo frontmen Stan Ridgway and Andy Prieboy…without, of course, being quite as good (nay: excellent!) as either. Orgy, the band that did that slightly metalled-up version of New Order’s “Blue Monday”, come to mind also. Lyrically, the aforementioned Manson and NIN show their influence more: Nice bit of “coke/sodomy” wordplay in “Why Dance With the Devil, When You Have Me?”, a song which furthermore cements the MM connection by chanting the word “drugs” at the beginning.
The album opens and closes with spoken-word pieces that are frankly more “silly” than the intended “sinister”, but the songs in between are pretty groovy for the most part. It’s fairly derivative stuff for those in the know – “My Lady Dominate” owes more than a little to Depeche Mode classic “Enjoy The Silence”, for example – but it’s more-than-competently executed. My favourite track, apart from a surprisingly decent cover of Elvis standard “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (!), is perhaps the moody title track, “Noir”, the last song-proper on the album. Indeed, there’s no denying that this is a well-sequenced album: A bit of a concept-y one with the way the tracks segue neatly into each other, and just as you’re tiring from the electro-dance onslaught, proceedings are “brought down” with a more stripped-back, ballad-ish number. Nice.
All up, this is an enjoyable little journey into quirky, goth-lite territory, if not ultimately as good as the artists which so clearly inspired it. Whether this renders the whole exercise borderline “pointless” is up to the individual, but I must say it agrees with my own sensibilities far more than 99% of the crap which passes for “music” these days. And if it turns elements of the emo/post-emo generation onto just some of the influences it wears so brazenly on its black-lacey sleeve, then all the better. Promising stuff indeed, and he’s definitely got his evil, black heart in the right place for my dollar. Here’s hoping Mr. Control finds his own voice a little more distinctly on future solo albums, and in the meantime I believe I may have some Aiden albums to check out.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice