Issue December 22, 2009

Six

The Black Heart Procession
TEMPORARY RESIDENCE

The Black Heart Procession remain as lugubrious as ever on Six, much of which is devoted to glacial piano dirges with singer Pall Jenkins intoning like Bowie-via-Nick Cave. The best of these by a wide margin is “Drugs,” which recalls Leonard Cohen’s “Love Calls You By Your Name”; far less successful is the overwrought opener “When You Finish Me,” which unintentionally substitutes bathos for pathos. The rest of Six mostly consists of vague tango rhythms and choppy tightrope guitar, but the songs are almost aggressively unmelodic, and Jenkins’s refusal to transcend his deadpan speak-singing becomes truly grating over the course of the album. The band does break out of this mold on the comparatively breezy “Witching Stone,” but the other 50 minutes leave the listener so melody-starved that only a weeklong XTC marathon could wash the taste out.