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Hoodoo Gurus
Purity Of Essence
Virtual Label/ADA
www.hoodoogurus.net


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!

-George Dow

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