The eighties was a decade that introduced dozens of new genres to the world which have been revisited by countless bands ever since. In the early aughts, the world saw a post-punk revival that was heavily influenced by garage rock and new wave. After that fizzled out, starting just before the year 2010, the next step seemed to be digging deeper into the darkness of that last decade of the Cold War as a steady resurgence of deathrock and some combination of synth, darkwave, and coldwave bands with post-punk sensibilities emerged—the numbers of which gradually continue to increase globally as the interest in them doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. As with all things, some people can pull it off and some people cannot. Some people also prefer to tap into the spirit of these genres and recreate them without any sense of nuance, while others alter or blend them with other elements to make their music stand apart from all the obvious influences from which they draw their inspiration. Regarding the latter, one such band would be Austin, Texas’s Captive.
The American edition of Captive’s debut album, Black Leather Glove—released this year on Funeral Party Records with the assistance of Breathing Problem Productions and Calico Grounds—is a complex mixture of a vast spectrum of different dark-music “waves.” The introductory track, “Leaving Home,” begins with a minimal synth pattern that slowly develops into a dreamy synthwave melody, followed by the sort of bass line that sounds audibly cold. Both are accompanied by deathrock guitar chords and vocals that sound a lot like a hybrid of Rozz Williams-era Christian Death swirling around in a cup of Robert Smith. After this, the title track, which features fantastically appropriate and subtle guest vocals by Emilia McKay, establishes how solid the drum programming is on Black Leather Glove. It also proves Captive’s ability to successfully create some rather catchy hooks, thus also drawing attention to the new wave presence that shows itself fairly consistently, particularly on the following two tracks, “The Fool” and “Love is Law” (my personal favorite). As if to combat the warmth felt in these songs, the next track, “I’m Long Gone,” illustrates well more of a cold wave direction.
From this point on, the only qualm I really have about Captive would be Rusty Kelley‘s vocals. The song structures remain strong, but moving past the mid-point of this album, the tone of the singing becomes increasingly more melodramatic and nasal. While I assume it’s the intent, this is the kind of voice that you will either love, hate, or have to be in the mood to hear (I fall into the latter category). In looking past that, Black Leather Glove continues on maintaining a consistent pace and tone while also experimenting with dream pop elements before ultimately leading up to the final track, “Endless Lust.” This track sounds slightly more aggressive, so while it does noticeably contrast the rest of the recording, it equally feels like an apropos eighties-dystopian-future synthwave type of climax to conclude the album.
With the increasing popularity of music that essentially gets lumped into the “goth” category, it’s clear that there are some out there that have grown weary of how many people have latched on to the term. It’s hard to say sometimes what judgments might be placed on whom and why. While I’d like to think that fans of Asylum Party and early Christian Death would appreciate this, there’s a chance that might not be the case. Regardless, I found it to be an interesting release that successfully brings together several different influences and elements in a competent manner with extremely strong songwriting, thus making Black Leather Glove a worthwhile debut album to experience.
01) Leaving Home
02) Black Leather Glove
03) The Fool
04) Love is Law
05) I’m Long Gone
07) The Maze
08) The Staircase
09) Coming Home
10) Endless Lust
Written by: Anne K. O’Neill
Funeral Party Records (United States) / FP-005 / 12″ LP
Breathing Problem Productions (United States) / BPP-044 / 12″ LP
Calico Grounds (United States) / CG33 / 12″ LP
Cønjuntø Vacíø (Spain) / Ø-05 / Tape, Digital
Monofonus Press (United States) / MF096 / Tape
Cold Wave / New Wave / Deathrock / Synthwave / Post-punk