How goth is this new album from controversial tattoo/make-up artist and singer Kat Von D? It starts with the sound of a heartbeat and ends (on The Calling) with a reel-to-reel recording of screen goddess Vampira, that’s how goth. She even unearths a long-lost song written by Peter Murphy, aka Lord Cheekbones himself, from goth legends Bauhaus, and they sing it together. So it would seem that it might be tailor-made for this old Goth here (my school nickname was Morticia, the first band I saw were The Damned, etc).
There’s a plethora of American rock legends involved in the making of this album – collaborators include Dave Grohl, Dave Sitek, Linda Perry, Gregg Foreman on synth, and songwriting from Danny Lohner, who is notable for work with artists including Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle. So, it should be interesting and accomplished. There is no denying that the production is crisp and slick. Alas, it’s mostly pretty pale and anaemic fare.
Protected, said duet with Murphy, lacks the kind of blood and swagger of his best work. Von D’s voice, while nice, lacks a little passion. Goth pop usually has histrionics and drama lurking in its fishnets. There are a couple of decent melodies, like the Lynchian ballad I Am Nothing, which has an effervescent twinkliness, and Lost At Sea, a more up-tempo, anthemic tune which calls to mind mid-era Depeche Mode. But generally, the swooning, sheeny synth sounds are like the more sanitised end of the 80s, reminiscent of teen movie soundtracks. It’s all too clean, too airbrushed: rather safe, erring on pastiche. Too many cooks perhaps, and not enough kooks.