Peter Murphy's last outing on 2011's 'Ninth' marked his first solo material since the reformation and subsequent break-up of Bauhaus. It was an album that saw Murphy with a lot to prove as a solo artist again, and was a solid enough offering, that made the most of his character of the protagonist gothfather and legacy of dark charisma to its advantage. His tenth album 'Lion' on the other-hand sees Murphy in a different position. Having successfully made peace with his legacy as Bauhaus front-man on the Mr Moonlight Tour, Murphy is free to relax and indulge himself. The result of which is some of the more exciting songs in his back catalogue.
The album opens with the unrelenting lead single 'Hang Up' which bears the unmistakeable fingerprint of producer Martin 'Youth' Glover (of Killing Joke fame) with it's sinister bass, heavy electronics and huge chorus that pushes Murphy's vocals their hardest in some time. Songs like, 'I Am My Own Name', 'Low Tar Stars', 'Compression', 'The Ghost Of Shokan Lake' and 'Lion' stradle the grittier post-punk leanings of Murphy's career while still integrating the dark pop that made albums like 'Deep' such classics. While tracks such as 'I'm On Your Side', 'Holy Clown' and 'Loctaine' give the album serious depth of character with their dark ballad-like framework and epic pop-rock execution.
If this album was indeed created in a rush, then perhaps that is how Murphy was meant to work. Glover's production is as impeccable as you'd come to expect, but Murphy's performance sounds much more fresh and re-energised than on recent releases. The passion and vulnerability that lacked in places on 'Ninth' is right at the forefront of this album, which when coupled with the dynamic and sometimes experimental musical backdrop, weaves an intricate web of texture and atmosphere. 'Lion' has perhaps sparked a creative partnership that has brought the best out of artist and producer alike.
'Lion' is more than a return for form for Murphy. It is a new benchmark that sees his performance and writing pushed harder than it has been for a long time and has in turn made him sound relevant once more, and gives him an appeal beyond the faithful fanbase that have stuck with him through his career. The past year may have been one of highs and lows for Peter Murphy, but 'Lion' should be the herald of a fresh start.