11 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The spindly ex-Bauhaus frontman helped write rock’s book of gloom (alongside Joy Division, Siouxsie & The Banshees, et al) for legions of David Bowie–obsessed goth kids in the early '80s. That became his legacy. He has since aged rather gracefully within (and without) goth’s musical constraints, especially on 1988’s pop-transcendent Love Hysteria. Lion—his 10th solo album—is the best record he’s done since then. It exquisitely bottlenecks Bowie-ish art-house melodrama (“The Rose,” “I’m on Your Side”) with springy electro-pop (“Low Tar Stars”), dark glam (“Hang Up,” “Holy Clown”), and Turkish violins (“I Am My Own Name”). The music sounds vampire-ageless, yet overcast as hell. When Murphy sings a line like “I like that bitter pill/The killer instinct still,” you know he believes it. His voice is supersized in spots (rising to James Hetfield–like urgency on “The Ghost of Shokan Lake”); then it moves like gently exhaled cigarette smoke (especially atop the creepy theremin on “Loctaine”). Ably produced by Killing Joke’s Martin “Youth” Glover, Murphy’s rock theater is big, wide, and forever lanky.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The spindly ex-Bauhaus frontman helped write rock’s book of gloom (alongside Joy Division, Siouxsie & The Banshees, et al) for legions of David Bowie–obsessed goth kids in the early '80s. That became his legacy. He has since aged rather gracefully within (and without) goth’s musical constraints, especially on 1988’s pop-transcendent Love Hysteria. Lion—his 10th solo album—is the best record he’s done since then. It exquisitely bottlenecks Bowie-ish art-house melodrama (“The Rose,” “I’m on Your Side”) with springy electro-pop (“Low Tar Stars”), dark glam (“Hang Up,” “Holy Clown”), and Turkish violins (“I Am My Own Name”). The music sounds vampire-ageless, yet overcast as hell. When Murphy sings a line like “I like that bitter pill/The killer instinct still,” you know he believes it. His voice is supersized in spots (rising to James Hetfield–like urgency on “The Ghost of Shokan Lake”); then it moves like gently exhaled cigarette smoke (especially atop the creepy theremin on “Loctaine”). Ably produced by Killing Joke’s Martin “Youth” Glover, Murphy’s rock theater is big, wide, and forever lanky.

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