You gotta live a little when the world just wants you sad
In November 2018, Southampton goth punk outfit Creeper stood on a stage in London and announced that they had just played their last show. They disappeared from the stage and social media until exactly a year later when they re-emerged, announcing a brand new era in their band’s history. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is the result of that lost year and it is exactly what we need to hear during the chaos that is 2020.
From the minute the first single, “Born Cold”, was released in November 2019, fans knew they were in for something different. Yes, it has some of the same glam rock sensibilities that made Creeper’s previous album, Eternity, In Your Arms, such a strong debut but it was entirely new. The whole album feels that way—new but familiar, out of the blue yet exactly what you’d expect from a band who thrive on building complex narratives around their music. Evocative and experimental and cohesive—this is an album to savor and explore at your own pace. But trust me when I say you’ll feel like it’s over too soon and each time you listen to it you’ll find something else to appreciate.
It’s easy to want to compare Creeper to those who’ve come before: They pulled a disappearing act like Bowie at the end of the Ziggy Stardust era, they have the theatricality of My Chemical Romance. But don’t get bogged down in similarities, Creeper is their own beast, true originals in sound and aesthetic.
Consider “Poisoned Heart”—it has a tinge of Americana, something you wouldn’t think could come from a young British band. “Napalm Girls” has an old rock ‘n’ roll flavor that invites raucous sing-alongs. “Paradise” has an unexpected, Springsteen-esque saxophone solo in the last third that somehow works despite the overall surfer-dude vibe, brought on by a combination of big drums and synths. “Four Years Ago” is a lush duet between crooning lead singer Will Gould and backing vocalist/keyboardist Hannah Greenwood whose always-impressive vocals remind me of the late Dolores O’Riordan. In between, we catch seconds-long interludes by Patricia Morrison of The Sisters of Mercy as she explores the story of Roe, a divine being newly fallen to Earth, and his doomed lover Annabelle—the most poignant is the final minute of the album, “More Careful With Your Heart” (I dare you not to tear up). Religion is a major theme, the concept of sin and being abandoned by God appearing in multiple songs; lyrics in “Annabelle” allude to Creeper’s standoff with the Westboro Baptist Church during their Warped stint in 2017. Album closer, the powerful piano-driven ballad “All My Friends” hints at the importance of mental health and was written by Gould for guitarist Ian Miles after MIles was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
It’s not just their sound that has evolved; the band seemingly underwent a transformation without physically changing (much). Their first video featured white suits instead of their usual all black ensemble. Gone is their bold “Callous Heart” symbol which was a staple of their previous album cycle. In its place is a weeping angel trapped in a lightning bolt, created by an English tattoo artist. Listen close enough and you can unearth the tragic love story of Roe and Annabelle. But there’s a second, more subtle story woven throughout the album—that of a band rising through personal grief and hardships and emerging triumphantly on the other side. It’s fitting that Sex, Death, & the Infinite Void is coming out in an unprecedented time—despite the dark and tragic nature of their lyrics, Creeper brings with them a sense of hope in the midst of hopelessness, the potential for redemption and resurrection, and the feeling that love will get you through it all.
Buy it, Stream it, or Skip it? Buy it! Trust me, you’ll want a physical copy of your favorite album of 2020 on your shelves.