I know a guy who keeps a spare shelf in his vast (and believe me, it’s vast, like as in needing three a’s—vaaast) music library for the Legendary Pink Dots. The gatefold vinyl album versions are prominently displayed. The compact discs stack. The small pocket hard drive where they’ve all been downloaded for international travel sits with a big sticker. There are bootlegs there. There are live versions.
The band is his rock identity—obsessive, complete, and absolutely true.
I myself don’t have a rock identity, but as I listen to Plutonium Blonde, the newest output from the band—who has many releases—I imagine what it’s like there. This as a rock identity seems strange. The first track is a chanting, Eastern-themed haunt titled “Torchsong,” which exists quite outside the standard song, filed under rock. Even goth rock—it’s just so off-kilter. It’s simply one of the most sinister songs I’ve ever heard, and at that, I’ve listened to it three times or more just processing its gaudy specter. All over the board goes Plutonium Blonde, from sax undertones (“A World With No Mirrors” and “My First Zonee”) to dingy Portishead (“Faded Photograph”) to radio narrative-cum-industrial (“An Arm And A Leg”). All over it goes, and as a listener relatively new to the Legendary Pink Dots, everywhere they go, I will follow. There isn’t a bad song in the ten.
If I could count any one thing as a quibble with Plutonium Blonde, it is that I didn’t make this band my band earlier. Knowing the people I know, however, it might not be too late.