Future Bible Heroes - Eternal Youth

By liz

(Instinct - US Release 20 Aug. 02)

"You know me, I take nothing seriously.
I can see a laughing face in every willow tree."

- Losing Your Affection

I think people often get confused by the many guises that Stephen Merritt shields himself in, I know I certainly do. The always haunting, never off-the-mark music of Mr. Merritt has entertained us as the Magnetic Fields, the 6ths, the Gothic Archies and yes, the Future Bible Heroes. Until this new release, The Bible Heroes were Stephen's collaboration with Boston DJ Christopher Ewan. These two have now transformed into three with vocalist Claudia Gonson (Magnetic Fields contributor).

Music that can only be comprehended through headphones or the dark pounding of a club should be celebrated, and this album is no exception. Something about my stereo speakers being too far removed from my aural sensors would make this sound a little hard to process. Out of 16 tracks and only 39 minutes, six songs are Chris Ewan instrumentals (instant Enoesque classics). The remaining ten tunes hold steady with the eerily sung lyrics of romance, vampires and aliens. Aliens? Yes, I think that's what he's going for. This is not quite the Bacharach inspired pop songs I love about some of Stephen's earlier work.

"You're from some dying star, I don't know what you are...
You're not human, too beautiful to be human."

- From Some Dying Star

The goth tone to this record is a little disconcerting to me. It's sparse, it's dark... and perhaps a few songs too long (Can I actually say that about an album of 39 minutes?). There are highlights. I'm a Vampire is a surprising gem as Claudia deadpan's Stephen's off kilter lyrics ("I have all the love I need,/It is your blood I crave/I am the bitch goddess/from beyond your grave." The sadness and utter depravity exhibited in Find an Open Window are surprisingly tender and juvenile ("When you're lying face down in the snow/find an open window/Then without a sound/Climb through and just let go"). I do like this album, it's not bad. While the album does exhibit moments of synth genius, it doesn't have as much heart as other material. Eternal Youth will end up on my list somewhere at the end of the year, but probably not in the top 10.