The Hoodoo Gurus' ninth album, Purity Of Essence, is
pure college radio music
as played by adults. Anyone familiar
with the Hoodoos will recognize their particular brand of guitar rock
and punked-up tempos. If you liked them in the '80s then trust me,
you'll still like them today.
I was a huge fan of their sophomore release Mars Needs Guitars
back in 1985. "Bittersweet" was an amazing single that still
holds a special place in my personal Music Hall of Fame. In the ensuing
years they've released a series of records that I never even knew
about. Listening to Purity Of Essence is like a class reunion
at which you run into an old friend you lost touch with after graduation.
After 25 years you learn that though so much has changed in your lives,
much has also remained the same. Listening to Purity Of Essence
is much like dropping in on an old friend and sharing stories of your
adult life in the familiar way you did as teenagers.
What makes Purity of Essence particularly endearing, at least
to me, is the general theme of the album and its lyrics. I keep going
back to the reunion theme but it is truly an apt analogy. Much of
the album deals with growing older and looking back over life, but
not through the rosy lens of nostalgia. Along this theme, a couple
of tracks stand out. "Burnt Orange" recounts the decades
of Dave Faulkner's life. "When I was seventeen / My blood
was gasoline / No matter where I turned / I got my fingers burned",
which is followed by a chorus of, "I wouldn't go back there if
I could." It's a look back at the mistakes and challenges of
life with the realization that each one had its own important contribution
to the life you live today. "I Hope You're Happy" checks
in on the current day lives of old friends. The lyrics recount their
search for peace in adulthood; the friend who found God and evangelizes
everyone he meets, the girl who futilely tries to hold the years at
bay with plastic surgery, and the neighbor who seeks peace through
naval gazing transcendental meditation.
At 16 tracks, Purity Of Essence is something of an anomaly
these days; a full album clocking in at just over 60 minutes. Over
the course of an hour there is never a dull moment. The songs swing
from up-tempo punk-pop to quiet ballads and back again a half dozen
times, never breaking the classic Hoodoo Gurus mold. What a joy it
is to rediscover these old friends!
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