The Bastard Fairies are an enigma. They give away the first 12 tracks of this album as a free download complete with artwork from their website. Then they put it out as a commercial release with 5 extra tracks and a DVD. One minute, this band are subversives and the next they release a nicely packaged commercial offering complete with the obligatory free DVD. It is a fine DVD, by the way, full of music videos and some truly bizarre extras. Our favourite was the surreal infomercial on how downloading the Bastard Fairies album for free had saved the participant's lives. It certainly makes a change from the normal "dance lessons saved my career" videos that accompany multinational product.
None of this would matter if the music had no merit. Fortunately, this was not the case. This album is a strange offbeat collection of songs that echo Tom Waits and PJ Harvey. "Habitual Inmate" and "The Boy Next Door" takes us into the dark places that hide behind the streets of normality. "Ode to the Prostitute" provides us with a critical allegory to morality. "We're all going to Hell" covers the same territory adding in a healthy dash of black humour. "Moribund" is (almost) a radio friendly song. The jury is out on whether these songs come from a dark place or are designed to take us into the aforementioned dark place. Either way, there is plenty to arouse the curiosity and therefore make you listen again and again. Oh, lest we forget, there is also a perfect piece of quirky pop music in "Whatever" that should reside on everybody's iPod.
Compelling and yet disturbing, this is a curious musical meeting between poetry and performance art. Musically, this is a hard one to categorise. It is not an uncommercial offering but it will take you a couple of plays to fully appreciate it. The album is certainly very listenable though. You can even hum the tunes. Perhaps we have stumbled on another true original. In days gone by, cabaret and political commentary went together. It looks like those days have returned. A band with an opinion on important matters deserves your support. With 17 quality songs and a free DVD, it even qualifies as value for money. If your musical tastes deviate even slightly from the mind numbing mainstream, then we recommend you get your hands on this CD.