CD Review: ‘The Opiates’, Thomas Feiner; Anywhen

Talk about your long gestation periods – The Opiates, the third and final album from Swedish collective Anywhen – was originally recorded in 2001, and subject to an extremely limited release in February of that year.

So why are we mentioning it now? Well, The Opiates has aged sufficently enough to reach ‘lost classic’ status, and – following a rediscovery by ex-Japan mastermind David Sylvian – is all set for an updated and expanded re-release, courtesy of some reworking by vocalist Thomas Feiner.

Please. Stay where you are. We know the connotations that the term ‘lost classic’ has – you probably can’t help thinking of some scratchy Bob Dylan bootleg heralded as ‘the ultimate live experience’ or thirty-seven minutes of Syd Barrett farting that some wag has labelled ‘a transcendent psychedelic journey lost for several decades’.

The thing is: The Opiates actually deserves the revival. Is it a ‘classic’? Who knows? Such terms are so vague as to be infuriating anyway. Let hecklerspray tell you what The Opiates is, then: it’s a dark, epic, grandiose and orchestral collection of songs that will strike a chord with anyone who’s a fan of Tindersticks, Nick Cave, Scott Walker or even the solo work of Sylvian himself.

Bizarrely – for an album whose original recording has just passed its seventh birthday – something like The Opiates couldn’t be better timed. In an era of Doherty-influenced haircut-rock bands (admit it, people: The Libertines just weren’t very good) a sweeping overblown record like this feels like a conscious kickback to an irony-heavy, diluted modern era.

Make no mistake: The Opiates doesn’t do things by halves. Strings build and vocals yearn. If you want a soundtrack for summer-day strutting, you’d better look elsewhere. If you want a slow-burning, carefully-structured and altogether cinematic album that may or may not sound better after a few glasses of wine and some ‘special’ cigarettes, The Opiates has your number, baby. Play it on rotation with Isobel Campbell And Mark Lanegan’s Sunday At Devil Dirt – another contender for Album Of The Year thus far – and don’t be surprised if you start eschewing the sunshine in favour of turning into a brooding character from a Godard movie.

If that sounds good to you, check it out.

The Opiates is released via Samadhisound in the UK on July 7th and the US on July 29th.

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