Felt-Forever Breathes the Lonely Word
November 23, 2011
Forever Breathes the Lonely Word (Creation 1986)
You’ve got to have some chutzpah to adorn yourself with the singular moniker of Lawrence and then aim for a Vulcan mind meld with Tom Verlaine and Bob Dylan and try to make it big in an England enamored with the Smiths, the Jam and New Order. Of the three bands, the Smiths were the closest to being their kindred spirits as both bands relied heavily on frontmen well-versed in alienation and understated, but nimble guitarists who wrenched the maximum amount of emotion and expression out of each successive jangle. However, the script was flipped when Deebank walked out of the band and Lawrence enlisted organist Martin Duffy to be his new foil. You wouldn’t think an organist would be a suitable focal point in the indie scene of 80s England, but his addition resulted in their most straightforward, accessible and focused album in Forever Breathes the Lonely Word. What was once lighter than air gained some body and gravitas and provided a perfect canvas for Lawrence to indulge his infatuation with Dylan and Verlaine as Duffy jams out in his own mellow manner.
Where Morrissey was busy pondering his awkwardness in his own skin and a passive-aggressive relationship with love, Lawrence pursued a more philosophical, literary bent. He tosses off references to the Iliad, the Bible and the mythical isle of Avalon and portrays a series of nihilistic protagonists who aim for the heavens knowing full well that they will fall short of happiness. The opener “Rain of Crystal Spires” is most definitely one of their catchiest tunes, but the lyrics are devoted to the pursuit of lowering your expectations. It’s hapless hero chases beauty and perfection only to be shot down by his paramour and be told that he’s the kind of fellow that the sun will never shine upon. Instead of fighting it, he accepts his wayward fate and this embrace of misery and failure echoes throughout the album. Forever Breathes the Lonely Word is the most charming, intelligent, well-read gentleman in the room that never gets the girl because life has taught him too much about the nature of humanity. I guess that is why he includes a lovely ditty about how everyone worthy of his time is already six feet under. Lawrence was an idealist and the present was far too inferior to the angelic shine of what could have been in a perfect world. The imperfect one in which we all exist was one deflating bother. Thankfully, this conflict is what imbues this album with an epic grandeur even if it tackles that same lovesick themes as his peers. Everyone loves a misanthropic romantic. God knows I do.