In the vast landscape of modern music, few albums have captured the essence of bittersweet nostalgia and beautiful melancholia as poignantly as Choir Boy’s Passive With Desire. Initially released in 2017, this ethereal opus is a masterclass in dreamy synthpop and post-punk, laced with a touch of retro reverie. The album, which played a pivotal role in the band’s signing to Dais Records, is now being reissued, allowing a new generation of listeners to experience its magic.
Choir Boy, led by the enigmatic talent of Adam Klopp, emerged in 2016 with a sound that felt both fresh and deeply rooted in the past. Klopp’s vocals, often compared to the likes of Billy Mackenzie and Jimmy Sommerville, carry a melancholic weight akin to The Cure’s Disintegration era. Yet, beneath the surface of these tracks lies a bittersweet nostalgia for childhood and Halloween, evident in Passive With Desire’s thematic undercurrents.
One of the standout qualities of Choir Boy are their ability to elevate the mundane and the profane to the realm of the divine. The band’s artistry lies not just in their ethereal soundscapes but also in their lyrical prowess. They weave tales that touch upon the everyday experiences, from the sensual to the vulgar, and elevate them to a spiritual echelon. It’s this juxtaposition of the earthly and the ethereal that gives their music its unique character, making it resonate deeply with listeners.
The album commences with “Two Lips,” which bathes the listener in a burst of warm nostalgia, evoking melodies reminiscent of days long past. This is followed by “Angel Dog,” a track that transitions into an effervescent daydream, capturing the fleeting nature of memories and wistfully envying the purity of a nearby canine friend. “Leave Me Be” stands as a hauntingly beautiful song at the crossroads of love and heartbreak, encapsulating the essence of those bittersweet moments we’ve all experienced.
“I Feel How the Snow Falls” evokes the serene beauty of a snow-covered landscape, serving as a tearful ode to Christmases that have come and gone. “Blood Moon” is a cinematic retro 80s pop anthem that delves into the vampiric dreams of youth. The track is rich with imagery, from a child’s Dracula costume to the innocence and allure of Halloween. “Sanitorium” is a mournful dirge adorned with horns that seamlessly transitions into the post-punk guitars and reverb of the title track “Passive With Desire,” capturing the very essence of beautiful despondency.
“Hellmouth,” a fan favorite, continues the themes introduced in “Blood Moon.” It paints a melancholic picture augmented by retro synths and somber backing vocals, delving deeper into the vampire theme with references to the iconic widow-peaked Dracula visage and the memory of a mother assisting in the application of childhood Halloween makeup. The album concludes with “Dark Room,” a heart-wrenching track that begins with acoustic guitars and culminates in an overwhelming embrace of melancholia.
After the release of Passive With Desire, the band teetered on the brink of dissolution. It was a tumultuous period that saw them venturing into a side project, Human Leather. However, the magnetic pull of Passive With Desire was undeniable. The album, with its evocative tracks, paints a vivid picture of soft clouds bathed in hues of pink and orange against the backdrop of a setting sun. It’s songs explore the winding path of memory, filled with moments of joy and sorrow. And when the storms of life rage on, we can seek solace in the simple things, and through music we can, much like spiders, find refuge nestled gently in our gossamer webs.
Listen to “Passive With Desire” below:
Klopp’s journey, from hours spent in Mormon sanctuaries to the raw energy of DIY punk venues, has been one of duality. His experiences, both spiritual and rebellious, culminated in his departure from a religious mission in Tahiti, leading to the creation of Passive With Desire. The album birthed at Studio Studio Dada, began as intimate bedroom drafts, evolving into a full-fledged musical experience with the addition of a full band, sophisticated instrumentation, and nostalgic samples.
Engineered by Klopp, alongside Bret Meisenbach and Stephen Cope, Passive With Desire stands as a testament to Choir Boy’s unique style. It’s a collection that speaks of longing, transformation, and the human urge for discovery.
For those eager to experience this masterpiece on an assortment of coloured vinyl, pre-orders are available through Dais Records.
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