The Real Tuesday Weld "Songs for The Last Werewolf"
Is this the way of the future, a multi-media listening and reading experience? "Songs for The Last Werewolf" is an album of music inspired by Glen Duncan's book of the same title. It sits somewhere between the soundtrack of a non-existent movie, adding atmosphere to the unfilmed scenes, and with the mixture of music and snatches of spoken word - presumably dialogue from the novel - a musical interpretation of the novel. Here though the music tells the story arc by itself that it could stand alone well enough without these additional narrative hints.
It's an intoxicating blend of Bohemian jazz, twenties crooning, electronica and more, which creates a fantastic realm of mist filled streets haunted by the full moon. The world it creates for the narrative is part burlesque club and part Bladerunner; there's a dash of Beefheartian blues thrown in on the howling "Wolfman" and the gorgeous nocturne of "The Lupine Waltz" conjuring up a turn of the nineteenth century decadence.
"The Hunt" is a syncopated gypsy jazz number in which the lycanthrope encounters a group of hunters whose dedication to violent and cruel revenge - "we're going to hunt you down / we're going to cut you up /...we're going to love it when we see you swing" - rivals the instinctive blood lust of the wolfman. Who, then, is the real beast? One narrative thread is the werewolf's romantic entwining’s in which affection; lust and the need to kill become twisted into a perpetual Mobius band of desire and guilt. One in particular which may end in love, or death, or perhaps something else - a supernatural romantic destiny.
The duet "Me and Mr Wolf" sounds like it has been lifted from a lost Disney cartoon of Red Riding Hood, with little girl lost vocals sparring with the wolf's treacly smarm barely hiding his true flesh-devouring intentions - "My dear little girl, just a bite, and you will be consumed with delight / Oh Mr Wolf my hunger is real but they say there's more to love than a meal". Some songs work less well than others - "Love Lust Money" is an electronic fusion, like the multi-layered soundtrack to a video installation. It has a jarring feel of an affectionate Yello pastiche. "Tear us apart" is a synth-pop love song, with horrible synthetic horn toots. These are more than balanced by songs like "Save Me" - which sounds like Amy LaVere(but isn't) - and the splendidly eerie "The Ghosts", which despite having a line echoing ”Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” actually brings Japan's "Ghosts of my life" to mind.
It struck me that in one real sense the album ultimately fails - having heard it I was left with no great desire to read the book which inspired it. However, taken as a separate entity it's a highly satisfying listen.