This album, as many of the preceding albums of this, Matt Johnson’s terrific band, have blown me away. You might even say they have detonated a mind bomb. Father has remonstrated me for failing to mention that Matt Johnson was a member of Marc and the Mambas, the group Marc Almond formed after Soft Cell. So there you have it. Dusk is an evocative, dark, and self reflecting album which shines a light on some tough injustices in the world through the prism of Johnson himself. Johnny Marr, from the Smiths, plays guitar on this album.

It ends a great trilogy of records (including 1986’s Infected and 1989’s Mind Bomb) that showed The The mastermind Matt Johnson perfecting his personal musical vision while accumulating the right musicians to pull the whole thing off. Of those three, Infected (like far too many ’80s albums) sounds the most dated. The beat-driven dissonance of Mind Bomb fares better, but for the most part, Dusk sounds like it could have been released today. Pop Matters

The first track, True Happiness This Way Lies, is oddly Christian in its reflection. It starts with a pseudo stand up comedy routine, followed by agonised vocals and culminates in Johnson postulating that the only way to be happy in life is free yourself from desires. This is what the Church teaches in many ways. Chastity being one way in which we can remove an aspect of our pre-marital lives which blinds us to other qualities of our potential partner, for example. But more on that in a later post, or perhaps not.

The following tracks, in particular the third, fourth and sixth (Dogs of Lust, This Is the Night and Helpline Operator) tell stories of the seedy underbelly of London but also individual within the city. The subject matter is their illicit desires and exposing them for what they are, and in a way seeking to cure the listener of the very same desires. Love is Stronger than Death is one of the album’s triumphs. Singing with painful emotion, Johnson describes how the beauty of love can transcend even the dread of mortality. Again this is a Christian sentiment. The idea that one can love beyond death has been explored innumerable times, for example in this wonderful poem by Elisabeth Browning.


Undoubtedly ‘Dusk’ can be marked down as a retreat in terms of some of Johnson’s usual ambitions; compared to its predecessors the lyrics aren’t nearly as political and the arrangements are generally less elaborate, though this is counterbalanced by the new artistic opportunities the fresh format affords. The traditional instrumentation allows for greater light and shade, the production feels warmer and Johnson lets the intimacy shine through in his vocals. The lyrics here are less interested in the politics of states and nations instead choosing to focus on the politics of individuals within society, uncovering the hidden drives and desires that manipulate us all. The album title ‘Dusk’ could quite easily have been replaced with ‘Lust’ for this is a work practically dripping with illicit passions and sexual loathing. Sputnik

The penultimate song Bluer Than Midnight frightened me somewhat. The final words of the track intimating that Johnson is more stimulated by fear than love were rather harrowing. As though by antidote, the last track, Lonely Planet, is about accepting one’s lot and ends with “the world’s too big, and life’s too short, to be alone”.

A wonderful, fulsome and devastating album which is likely The The’s best work.