Pere Ubu – Lady From Shanghai
Few bands can claim the sort of hard-earned respect accorded to Pere Ubu. The Fall are one example that spring to mind; and as with that outfit, a new LP from David Thomas’ art-rock pioneers always feels simultaneously familiar and strange. Lady From Shanghai, coming thirty-five years after their seminal debut The Modern Dance, evinces the continuing robustness and relevance of the brooding, deconstructed garage sound first unleashed on that LP.
The group’s defining elements are still present: Thomas’ cryptic lyrics and playful-yet-threatening delivery; the hard-edged rock grooves, overlaid with caustic, spiky guitar lines, syncopated rhythms and unpredictable descents into freeform noise. In fact, much of Lady From Shanghai could pass for material from the group’s early days, yet it still sounds fresh, testifying to Pere Ubu’s unique sound. They may have spawned plenty of imitators, but thirty-five years on, there’s still no other outfit that sounds quite like them.