We’re martyrs in a marriage,
In a war we’re gonna lose.
From “Remember We Were Lovers”
Primal Scream lead Bobby Gillespie partners with Jehnny Beth of Savages fame on the release of their collaborative effort, Utopian Ashes.
At its core, Utopian Ashes is an album depicting two sides of a conceptualized relationship falling apart. The narrative is entirely imagined. It’s not real.
At first blush, that seems… a little too niche to pull off well. And as someone who’s a stickler for heartfelt lyrics, I was skeptical. With a topic as heavy as divorce, surely you’d need some lived truth to back up the songwriting. But I was pleasantly surprised by the depth contained within the record.
Utopian Ashes combines the sincerity of old-school country ballads with elements of ’70s rock and psychedelia. And maybe a snippet or two of Britpop nostalgia.
For an album about a breakup, it’s not all gloom and doom. Intro track “Chase it Down” sneaks in a taste of disco, while “Living a Lie” feels like it’s been plucked straight out of Britain in the early 90s.
Utopian Ashes is a testament to how music itself can paint a portrait even more powerful than words. The lyrics aren’t anything we haven’t heard before, each song containing phrases that can be considered staples of the breakup song trope. But the composition doesn’t require strings of poetic imagery and symbolism. The instrumentation, paired with the vocal stylings of Gillespie and Beth, sell their story in earnest.
From the poignant, yet powerful “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” to the melancholy “Remember We Were Lovers,” Gillespie and Beth spin a convincing tale of a love that was lost– without actually having been lost.
Highlights: “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “Sunk In Reverie,” “Remember We Were Lovers,” “Chase It Down”
Featured image courtesy of Bobby Gillespie, Jehnny Beth – Chase It Down (Official Video) via Primal Scream