The thing that makes Morphine so unique is, in some ways, the thing that keeps them from ever being a band that I will truly love. That’s not their fault, of course, but it does make them one of those bands who I like more or less depending upon the quality of their songs.
The thing that makes them unique is, of course, their instrumentation: vocals, saxophone, custom-built bass guitar (often played with a slide) and drums. I don’t know another band like this, they sound like no one else. They have more in common with a jazz combo but even then there would usually be a piano or something else. (Yes, there are sometimes other instruments on record, but not as often as you might think.) Their sound is uniquely sparse but, even when there are overdubs, as that slide bass usually occupies so much space but there’s so little else on the recordings.
But the more I hear Sandman’s songs the more I like him fine, but don’t love him. He’s got a decent enough sense of melody – if he didn’t, listening to this band might be a chore – and his lyrics are fine but, more often than not, I find the songs making not enough of an impression on me, I’ve heard a couple Morphine records to date and there is usually one song or sometimes two which I gravitate to and the rest I forget relatively quickly. I feel no compulsion to put the record on later. (For example: I’ve had The Night in my collection for nearly two decades, and I claimed to love it when I first bought yet I couldn’t tell you the last time I listened to it.)
For me the big problem is the energy.; even on the energetic, upbeat songs, this band doesn’t have a lot of oomph. It’s not their thing. And that’s find, but I think I would like them better if they did more with their unique sound, or if the songs were strong.
All of this sounds like I don’t like this record. But I do enjoy listening to bands that sound like no one else. I really do.