The Legendary Pink Dots can get toppled by their own ambition, and often their albums are murky messes hung up on some obscure concept. With two albums on the same heavy concept (All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men) behind them, Whispering Wall is a casual return to the old ways and a decent entry point for anyone attempting to take the unwieldy band on. Opening numbers on Dots albums are often good indicators of what’s in store, and the driven “Soft Toy” is a good sign. Chugging guitar isn’t what you normally hear on their records, but it’s the basis of “Soft Toy” and the first of many surprises. Radiohead would be proud to call the fairly-straightforward-for-the-Dots “A Distant Summer” their own and “King of a Small World” is faux-jazz that Queen of Siam-era Lydia Lunch would have killed for. Believe it or not, “Peek-A-Boo” sounds like the Dots at Studio One with lead singer Edward Ka-Spel out-jestering Lee “Scratch” Perry. The highlight of the album, “For Sale,” is evidence that Ka-Spel has been listening to both Casino Versus Japan and Michael Nyman, one of the most polished Dots tunes ever, and a great way to introduce the band to whomever you’re trying to drag to one of their shows. There’s plenty of the usual wandering and the ending opus is over 12 minutes, so don’t think they’ve lost it and gone all pop. The Dots still make everyone else look succinct but if you’ve ever wanted to dabble in their world, do it now.
by David Jeffries
(The date of this review is unknown)