Peter Murphy, "Love Hysteria"
1988's Love Hysteria was my introduction to Peter Murphy as a solo artist, likely initiated by MTV's 120 Minutes airplay of "All Night Long." A minor hit in the United States, this and a host of other strong tracks from Murphy's second solo release would see Murphy exposed to a renewed audience as a solo performer, those both unfamiliar and familiar with his back catalog. Some of this may be attributable to the start of Murphy's songwriting collaboration with Paul Statham (ex B-Movie). This fruitful union would see the two working together for another six albums, producing some of his best-loved works over the next few years. This work alone spawned the aforementioned "All Night Long" as well as masterworks "Indigo Eyes," "Dragnet Drag," and "Blind Sublime."
Sometimes, writing a review about one's revered musicians can be a struggle, challenging as it may be to separate one's memories of a much-loved album with time and place. As I transitioned from high school to college, the dawn of the nineties was approaching, and the familiarities I'd felt growing up in the eighties seemed to be fading. New music, shifting places, different friends, and the loss of a certain comfort was on the horizon as I completed my last year of high school. This era felt ripe for the birth of a massive amount of new music, but I felt a need for stability and nostalgia as life marched on into unknown directions. The darker, romantic music I had embraced in high school that had such an impact on my life seemed to be changing, not always for the better, and I felt a longing for something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I was thus relieved when seeing 120 Minutes' airing of "All Night Long," an artist I was familiar with and that, up to that point, was not aware had embarked on a solo career. I instantly liked the song, so I went to pick up the vinyl at a local record shop, albeit with some trepidation.
Produced by former Fall member Simon Rogers (another band I had only recently become familiar with), the album opens with the instantly endearing "All Night Long," the sultry sound of Murphy's vocals and marimba introducing the album. Along with Paul Statham, Murphy's backing band The Hundred Men comprised a tight cast, including Matthew Seligman (Soft Boys, Thompson Twins, Thomas Dolby), as well as a repeat appearance from Howard Hughes. There's an evident songwriting maturity from Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, with lyrics showcasing far more abstract poetry than the former yet don't require profound interpretation for enjoyment. "All Night Long" and "His Circle and Hers Meet" feel like unabashedly personal love songs.
While much of the album tends towards a more ethereal bent, Murphy and team show they can rock out. "His Circle and Hers Meet" is one of the most straightforward rockers of his catalog, the others being "Blind Sublime" and the closing cover of Iggy Pop's "Funtime." Yet, this by no means indicates the rest of the album is sleepy dream pop. With the new songwriting duo and the Hundred Men in place, the talented band surges forth with combined rock power, acoustic atmosphere, and mystical rhythms, enhancing Murphy's rich baritone vocals. "Dragnet Drag" bursts forth with powerful percussion and inspired melody, building to a powerful chorus imploring listeners that "Hell is not the fire, Hell is your belief in yourself as the higher." The questioning "Indigo Eyes" kicks off with shimmering acoustic guitar and a melody to match, "With grey desire, he looks out mad with soft grey indigo eyes," another standout track of the album. A dreamy keyboard intro to "Time Has Got Nothing to Do With It" builds, along with Murphy's powerful vocal stylings. By the time he emphatically implores, "Time has go nothing to do with it," it doesn't matter what the interpretation of the song might be; it just feels like something utterly powerful. Poetic license is extensive across the album, but the powerful melodies and Murphy's intense vocal stylings make for an immersive listening experience.
The reissue offers no extra tracks and repeats the same running order as the original. A double-disc was released back in 2013 with largely non-essential demos. Hear the album here as intended, pressed on gorgeous indigo vinyl, preferably through a set of good headphones.