The Opiates Revised endears itself to a subtle melodic strength and depth that hints at the traditional pop song, yet it’s always in a skin too tight for it, and cyclical orchestral structures push them into a psychic intensity, while low slung rhythms and Thomas Feiner’s affecting baritone set up a bitter atmosphere. The Gothenburg singer evidently saw the constituents of his Anywhen band part ways prior to the completion of the album, leaving him to do with the assembled pieces what he would. An album would materialize in time, but one which would know little of any light, and it failed to come out in some territories altogether.
A most welcome revision this is, then, as Feiner’s thematic templates of nihilism, paranoia, claustrophobia and resigned melancholia are timely and never anything less than pungent. Feiner’s mysterious moods hang in sonic shadows and flit through Anywhen’s sensitive melodic thrusting on “The Siren Songs”, the albums opening movement. The group then slip into slow moving ballads, largely stripped of frills, with Feiner’s voice soaring over the frugal instrumentation. The simple but effective technique puts the listener into a hypnotic trance that’s difficult to snap out of until Feiner’s ready to break the spell. In these effective changes from propulsion, tension and combustion to swing, space and contrast, the group displays an aptitude for musical structure and instrumental timbre.
Within individual pieces, too, such as “Dinah & the Beautiful Blue” and “Scars and Glasses”, the players handle skillfully mixed harmonic shifts and immaculately paced sweeps with ease, and are careful never to over-egg the proceedings. “Yonderhead” and “For Now” represent two new compositions from Feiner, and they both fit well into the fabric of the album. The former is a slow build into a delicate yet feverishly swaying string pattern through which Feiner’s deep, grainy voice suggests much strain. The latter, conversely, has a somber piano line lead it through Anywhen’s harmonic enhancements. The label touts the record as something of a ‘lost classic’, a label which seems fitting; The Opiates Revised is potent and boldly self-possessed.
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