Ex-Hole, ex-Smashing Pumpkins bass player, Melissa Auf Der Maur returns to a true misguided, alternative form on her latest sophomore effort Out of Our Minds.
Out of Our Minds is a concept album based on the long-gone Vikings of yester-seas. You wouldn’t know it just by listening to it but the theme is there, drowned out by euphoric alternative rock that seems to pull a page from the 90’s sad-rock movement. Auf Der Maur’s bass lines croon and drone, snake and weave through elegant waves of music that the Vikings may have once sailed on. The tone of the album isn’t that of Thor or wooden, dragon-shaped ships, yet it presents a moment to step outside of the monotony of today’s mainstream rock; actually, deep down, it’s tinged with the purest metal.
This new album even finds itself bearing beautiful post-rock qualities. Instrumental “Lead Horse” carries us on its back through an apocalyptic journey of sorts, climax and all. “This Would Be Paradise” doesn’t stray too far from the beautiful depression expressed on Out of Our Minds, either.
The instrumentals and musicianship are top notch but what really stands out here are Auf Der Maur’s vocals. They’re dark and poignant, sexy and unique. Her transcendental voice helps to support the brooding alternative rock in a very perfect way. The sharp, chant like vocals work well against the deep and heavy dance grooves found on songs like “Meet Me (On the Darkside)”, and “Follow the Map”. Auf Der Maur truly shines though, on the duet between her and Glenn Danzig. Albeit slightly repetitive, “Father’s Grave” has a dissonant quality not seen since Danzig’s early work or Concrete Blonde’s Bloodletting; a true goth-rock classic.
Out of Our Minds, after the first three-quarters, begins to lose quite a bit of steam during the final few songs. All of the new, innovative and homage-paying ideas find themselves on repeat by the end of it all. The last quarter of the album loses track of all of the beautiful inspiration that it began with. I found myself experiencing boredom and that’s never really a good thing. The grim and unique tones found in the majority of Out of Our Minds, though, makes this a record worthy of many, many listens…
That, and there is a graphic novel and short film to accompany the epic story of the Vikings and their downfall. Auf der Maur’s sophomore effort took a full three years to complete and release but it was well worth the wait. She has crafted a world for music nerds full of woeful sorrow and beauty and I hope she sticks around for, at least, another couple of albums.