Remember when Ian Curtis was alive? Those were good days, weren’t they? Probably, anyway. I can’t really say. I was born in 1991.
Still, thanks to the new track by Leeds post-punk five piece FEHM, we can kind of pretend the Joy Division frontman is still with us. With echoing bellows shrouded by a murky guitar arrangement and swirling bassline, there is more than just a hint of Joy Division to be found here.
‘Last Breath’ is a gloomy affair, a twisting mesh of jangling guitars and drums that bleed into one another, creating a rather bleak soundscape. This is only made more harrowing by lead singer Paul Riddle’s foggy vocals, muffled shouts that never quite rise above the thick smog of the suffocating arrangement. Though the lyrics remain largely obscured, they centre on themes of death and decay, inspired by hospital workers who are surrounded by people at the end of their lives.
Though the submerged vocals work well, it feels a shame to hide them. You get the feeling some bands do this to obscure shitty writing, but FEHM are nothing short of poetic when it comes to describing those near death. “I look upon his face, he’s ready to go, the salt that binds the sea into the waves. The white in the toes, from the man I’ll never know, that bitter sweet moment you taste.” It’s a stark and bold description of a dying man, ghastly and yet somehow endearing. And that’s the real triumph of ‘Last Breath’ – it makes death sound fiercely ugly, yet curiously beautiful at the same time.