“Not for the faint of heart. Warm hands. Cold Blood. Where do I start?” Equal parts Masterpiece Theatre and Silence of the Lambs, the macabre new record by The LVRS is like a grisly accident you can’t tear your eyes from. The LVRS, of course, is the spoken word project behind the principals in My Ruin; Tairrie B and Mick Murphy.
The material has been culled from two previous releases that were sold only through the band’s website. In addition, several new tracks have been added to the package.
Adhering to the mission statement “Sometimes a whisper…can be more frightening than a scream” which is printed in the accompanying booklet, Tairrie’s voice rarely rises above the magnetic purr she utilizes so well. She doesn’t need to be more forceful however, because from the first moment of “Deep in a Mood” your ears are stapled to the speakers, hanging onto every fascinating syllable.
There are 23 pieces on Death Has Become Her and all have a somber tone. The material is a mélange of autobiographical material courtesy of Tairrie B, and pieces of fiction inspired by several sources; the poet Virginia Woolf’s suicide along with the Black Dahlia murder of 1947. Fittingly the material reflects the roots of the band’s (as it were) name. The topics of Love, Violence, Religion and Sex figure prominently in these stories (look at the first letter in each of those words if you haven’t caught on already) sometimes simultaneously.
Some tracks are delivered under the guise of fictional characters such as Lola Burns who is taken from a character in a Jean Harlow movie. Others seem to be in the first person where Tairrie relates chilling stories such as finding her grandmother’s body after she took her life in the family garage. She also relates several seemingly personal stories of domestic violence by an abusive former boyfriend who is a drummer in a well known rock band.
Other stories are written from the fictional perspective of murdered girls. The common thread that weaves through all the stories, however, is the same determination to never quit --- don’t let them see you cry kind of outlook. Some stories recount the murder and dismemberment, but of breaking the body only and not the spirit. “They say I’ve been murdered but I don’t feel dead on the inside…yet,” Tairrie’s character announces during “The Sum of her Parts.” A sort of m.o. for Miss B in real life perhaps? You don’t survive and in fact thrive in the music industry for as long as she has without a tough outer shell and an ability to ultimately put the blinders up and not cave to self doubt or any other obstacles.
Tairrie has occasionally been an adversarial figure in the past in dealing with record company execs as well as with the media. She has suffered vicious attacks in the press for refusing to be submissive in the treatment of her band, in addition to more maudlin critiques which have nothing to do with music. She briefly addresses her reputation woes as well as the theme of the treatment of women in music/movies which she has visited in length with My Ruin.
Not all the stories have a victim perspective, however. The closest there is to a humorous piece on the record is “Jesus is a Rockstar” where Tairrie laments the lack of quiet while a religious celebration takes place on a nightly basis across from her home. Victim becomes predator in “Violently Sexy”, a libido stroking piece that has matters of the carnal variety, first and foremost on her mind.
Tairrie’s words are frame-worked by the atmospheric instrumentation of her significant other, Mick Murphy. Mick has employed a variety of sounds in the project. There are several which have a powerful fuzz guitar structure while others have chilling keyboards. The overall effect is an eerie tone that seems right out of The Shining, or the John Wayne Gacy story. Mick uses several vocal effects masterfully throughout. On “Laundry” which is about Tairrie’s grandmother, he makes her vocal thinner and by doing so, makes her sound younger, closer to the age she was when the incident happened.
In other songs he adds a deep voice that accompanies Tairrie’s vocal. The result is a demonic tone that is just flat out unsettling. For some reason, one of the most chilling sounds to me is the running water in “Beyond the Valley of Rock”, proving that sometimes the greatest terror is in the mind and in the unknown.
The impetus for the project can perhaps be no clearer than in “Wordslinger”. Tairrie admits “I write for the same reasons that I breathe. Because if I didn’t I would die. Words are the voice of the heart.” The words on this record are harsh and disturbing as well as enthralling.
Death Has Become Her is not for the casual listener. Yet fans of My Ruin seem to regard them as a pool in which they see their own reflection, in addition to Tairrie’s lyrics being a beacon of hope for many. Sort of like AA for emotional baggage. With that in mind, the My Ruin audience should lap this up with the enthusiasm they’ve consumed past works, finding comfort in shared experiences.
Although this CD is an obvious must-have for My Ruin die-hards, you do not have to be a fan to enjoy this record because it is far removed from the band’s other works. If you enjoy movies that keep you on edge, this is up your alley. Forget “Saw” or “Hostel”. Infinitely more entertaining are The LVRS.
Find out more about The LVRS here: http://www.myspace.com/thelvrs