From early soaring psych, to mid period grandeur, to later excursions with electronica, Australia’s Died Pretty were a staple on my turntable/cd player/iPod for 20 years. After the demise of the band in 2002, singer Ron Peno paired up with Kim Salmon (The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon) as The Darling Downs for two albums of rustic country in ’05 and ’07. That same year Peno and Died Pretty guitarist Brett Myers regrouped and released an album under the moniker NOISES and other VOICES pushing further into an electronic sound with songs originally slated for a final Died Pretty album.
And now, roughly 30 years into his musical career, Peno, with his band The Superstitions, has released “Future Universe,” his first solo album. In no way is this a “trot-it-out-one-more-time” affair. Peno and band – which includes songwriting partner Cam Butler (Silver Ray) on guitar and über drummer Mark Dawson (Ed Kuepper) on drums – have released an album that stands tall in the Peno/Died Pretty canon.
Throughout the Died Pretty catalog, beautiful ballads sit next to searing rockers, and this album, while not without some sturdy rock, tends toward the ballads. Peno’s distinctive howl-to-a-croon voice hits moments of beauty, compellingly conveying hurt and gentleness. The album begins strongly with the galloping but resigned “The Death Of Me” and the elegant, yearning “New Blood.” Peno goes Walker-esque on on the string-laden “Gameplan,” and “Fall From Above” builds slowly to a catharsis that harkens to the best of the DP catalog. The album ends on the hopeful “My Own Fire To Light.” Highly recommended.
Buy CD: Citadel