69eyes.universal.monstersFormed back in the tail end of the 80’s, Finish ‘Goth ‘n Rollers’ The 69 Eyes have gained quite a cult following over the years. Mixing the moodiness and atmosphere of dark and gothic with the raw energy and approach of rock and roll, it has kept them churning out albums over the years and this is no different. Inspired partly by cult classics with the title name and some lyrical content, The 69 Eyes offer up their latest slice of music, so let’s see what’s lurking beneath the surface of “Universal Monsters” ?

Opening the album is “Dolce Vita”. With an air of raw rock and roll to it, the dark sounding goth number hits with a punchy sound musically. Simplistic structured riffs which are delivered with good timing over a steady rhythm sound like a less metal edged Deathstars whilst vocally, it has an air to the Sisters Of Mercy. With the gloomy edge to it, it’s straight forward dark rock and roll with a slightly flashy solo. Nothing special or spectacular, just straight forward, no messing. “Jet Fighter Plane” which follows has a real build up feel to its intro with a catchy melodic hook. Touches of Hammond organ ring out in the background and when it kicks in, the real raw rock groove sinks its hooks in. Steady paced and melodic, it’s got a kick to it, but it isn’t over powering. The catchy vocal hooks in the chorus with the keyboard melody are much like the intro in how they get stuck in your head and whilst it’s not stand out or anything like that, the familiarity and infectious nature does what is required of it.

“Blackbird Pie” has a slightly mesmerising feel initially. The droning melodic lead catches attention and when the verse comes in, there is more of a metal rawness to it. Lyrically, it’s not that special, basing itself kind of loosely on the children’s nursery rhyme ‘sing a song for a six-pence’ to the point where the chorus is the actual rhyme, it’s a unique approach to put it one way. The gloomy vocal delivery and nursery rhyme combination is a little odd but for some reason, when put with the moody music, it kind of works.”Lady Darkness” has a more upbeat sound and feel of it, in parts almost resembling indie rock with the progressions and chords used. This radio friendly structure has that infectious hook feel to it and it is relatively simple in terms of composition. Lead wise, it’s got a simple solo which has a melodic touch to it, but there is nothing major of note in the track, it’s just a gothic feel indie, sounding number.

“Miss Pastis” has a real fast paced rock feel to it with a real pushing feel to the groove. With a feel which is perfect for dancing to, it’s the type of number you’d expect to hear in a rock club. Lyrically, it is much like the feel of the sound, very seductive but the vocal delivery isn’t that way. The vocals are the usual style which has been present on the release so far. “Shallow Graves” has a bright tone with a slight moody overture to it. When the distortion comes in, it has a real pushing feel to it, like a heavier Alice Cooper in parts. Still with the Sisters of Mercy vocal approach, it trundles on, staying solid but never really sparking to life.

“Jerusalem” has a melodic feel initially, with a ringing out lead line and slightly electronic feel bassline to it which works well. With a subtle acoustic rhythm underpinning it and some well timed distorted leads, it helps build a decent atmosphere, but that’s about it. It’s not very special or standout in any way. “Stiv & Johnny” has another memorable hook in its intro and some slightly gravelly vocals in a moody sounding verse laced with clear ringing arpeggios. Steady paced, kicking it up a notch for the chorus, it’s got a slight gothic tainted Social Distortion styled sound to it which is strange in itself, but it really works well. The steady progress of the song is solid and another simple but decent lead stands out but again, it’s just work as normal for the album so far.

“Never” has a big sound to it, with punchy guitar riffs and melodic synth fills. Vocally, it’s weird, a strange kind of crooning in the verse which consists if subtle chugs and melodic clean arpeggios leads to a big sounding chorus with some depth in the tone but it’s just bog standard goth rock by numbers: Simple, moody and to the point. “Blue” has an atmospheric synth and sample intro, building up the atmosphere before the deep vocals come in. The moody feel of the track is helped by the slow pace and gradual growing feel to it but it doesn’t really come alive in the sense you would expect. There is no explosive riff or heavy bit musically, just an ever growing moody atmosphere which works, but feels like a letdown of sorts. Closing the album is “Rock and Roll Junkie” which brings an upbeat rock feel, similar to that of Billy Idol. The punchy feel and catchy hook work well, a total contrast to the rest of the album and whilst it is a good track, it seems out of place given the mood of the rest of the release.

Overall, this release is just a bit bland. It’s got some bright moments, some little hooks, some decent rhythms, but it’s overwhelmingly mediocre. Nothing really catches the attention and holds it like some of the influences and similar sounding artists do. It lacks that grandeur of the Sisters Of Mercy and the more modern appeal of The Deathstars with their more metallic edge. It’s just a bit meh really.

(4/10 Fraggle)