The The

Epic Records, 1993


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Did Matt Johnson and The The search out a more commercial sound, or did the commercial sound shape itself to The The's music?

Their 1993 album Dusk doesn't provide a clear answer to that question, but there's no denying that the ten songs that make up this album are the most radio-friendly that Johnson and crew had crafted yet. It also has some of the band's strongest moments to date.

Now, I don't mean to suggest that Johnson sacrificed anything in his music in order to get airplay; there still is a lot of intensity in the music on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Dusk (though not nearly as much as on their previous album Mind Bomb). Songs like "Love Is Stronger Than Death" and "Lonely Planet" still pack powerful messages, only this time, they're wrapped around some beautiful melodies. If anything, I would dare to suggest that Johnson's music had matured.

And the songs that did make it onto the airwaves, namely "Dogs Of Lust" and "Slow Emotion Replay," are both very good examples of what kind of a band The The could be when things worked out right for them. Although I do prefer "Slow Emotion Replay," each song holds its own well, even five years after this album's release. (I wonder why "Helpline Operator" didn't get this kind of attention; it's just as powerful of a track.)

With everything that goes right on Dusk, there are still a few minor points of contention that must be raised. First, Johnson has always seemed to have a fascination with song styles that make them sound like they came from the turn of the century. "The Beat(en) Generation" off Mind Bomb and its swing-style fell under this heading; on Dusk, "This Is The Night" is the target. And I'm sorry, Matt, but this just doesn't work as well as you'd like it to. Second, I have to question whether guitarist Johnny Marr's duties had been relegated on this album. (By the time The The played a concert broadcast on the radio -- released as Yeah, It's A Bootleg -- Marr was out of the band.)

The only other criticism is that it takes a little time to really get into the second half of Dusk, though after a while, its natural beauty comes through, as heard on tracks like "Lung Shadows" and "Sodium Light Baby."

Still, Dusk is easily the most approachable album that The The had produced up to then, and remains a high water mark for them. If you're at all curious about this band, this is probably the best album to start with.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.