1987, Music

Floodland (1987) by The Sisters of Mercy

I have never heard The Sisters of Mercy before and only know of them by reputation. So I got a surprise when I found out that this was basically the lead singer and songwriter’s solo album, as the original band broke up before it was created. I don’t know that this means anything, especially since I have never heard that debut album, but it does make me wonder how representative this is of past or future versions of this band.

If you were to picture ’80s goth rock, I suspect you might imagine an album that sounds a lot like this: there is a deep, brooding lead singer, there are terrible ’80s drums (actually just a drum machine), bad ’80s keyboards, and a genre atmosphere of darkness. Floodland embodies this Platonic ideal so much that I wonder how far from a cliche it is.

And I wonder that in part because I have heard a fair amount post punk we might call “goth” and nearly none of it was this extreme in its embrace of the “goth” persona. Sometimes I wonder how far up its own ass a genre needs to go before people notice it’s up there.
That being said, it’s not like this is a bad record; Eldritch is a good songwriter within his niche, and he balances his desire to sound extremely moody and tortured with a strong sense of melody. The arrangements leave a little to be desired – compare them to The Cure or, The Banshees or, specifically Bauhaus – but I suspect that’s part of the whole distillation of this aesthetic down to a very basic sound.

And knowing what I know about Alternative Rock in the 1990s, it’s hard to deny these guys weren’t influential. I guess I just prefer a little more muscle, a little more nuance, a little more texture, in my goth rock.

Still, it’s a pretty good record.


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