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The Black Heart Procession 

Three (Touch and Go)

Wednesday, Sep 27 2000
Feeling blue because your lover left you for another? Social Anxiety Disorder got you so down low that the once-vibrant water cooler gossip seems petty and vacuous? Don't despair. The proselytizers of better living through chemistry can help with handfuls of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors like Prozac and its kin. Never mind that Littleton ringleader Eric Harris was taking his prescribed dosage of Luvox at the time of his shooting spree -- he was an aberration. Besides, we all know that drugs are good. In no time, SSRIs will streamline those obnoxious mood swings so you can once again experience life as it was meant to be lived. The alternative is moaning into your six-string about truth and lies and love lost long ago à la Pall Jenkins of the Black Heart Procession. And who wants that?

From the unfunny spelling of his first name to his band's ridiculous moniker -- as if we should all join his pity party -- Jenkins sets a bad example for rocker kids: He's obviously a chronically depressed individual who thinks it's OK to share his dark feelings via song. The band's third album, simply titled Three, varies little from the obsessive melancholy of the last disc, Two. Like a suite of sorrows for the straitjacket crowd, its few-chord brooding from track to track suggests a long, death-black night without end. An especially gloomy tune, "Once Said at the Fires," implies that solidarity can offer temporary relief from misery: "Down here all along/ Out here by the fire/ They'll warm their hands and know/ There's others here like them." This kind of wrongheaded thinking could cause irreparable harm by, say, inspiring confused young people, who find kinship in the rebellious goth scene, to tattoo black hearts on their foreheads and circle in to feed on the more vulnerable of their peers.

To be fair, the BHP sounds nothing like genre-defining goth bands Sisters of Mercy or the Cure; there's no pretentiousness (and no mascara). That said, titles like "We Always Knew," "Waterfront (the Sinking Road)," and "On Ships of Gold," with its endlessly looping outro of desperation -- "I didn't know/ I didn't know/ I didn't know ..." -- resonate with a woefulness that should appeal to similarly despondent music fans. All but one of the songs on Three mine downtempo grooves, using eccentric instruments like clavinet, pump organ, waterphone, and singing saw to effect a haunting air.

There's potential in the band's archetypal storytelling (lots of light, fire, ships, and sea imagery), but the tunes lack the necessary light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel optimism found in a Britney Spears heartbreaker. Perhaps the BHP would benefit from some SSRIs.

About The Author

Sam Prestianni


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