Album Review: Archive / ‘With Us Until You’re Dead’ (Dangervisit/Cooperative)


A bit of a white elephant in their native UK despite having made a habit of rocking most of Europe, Archive have long held a tenuous trip hop residency. Impassioned, organic, string-swept electronica and blustering leftfield/rock-lashed pop sees them racing to a run-for-your-life heartbeat, hurrying headfirst into walls of sound, lashing out before retreating like a wounded animal in a bid to find unsettling peace.

The death metal-style title is downgraded to a scrutiny of a love-hate relationship dealing with crashing highs, muttering lows and vice versa. The poetic scribbles of “Stick Me in My Heart” confirm the with-or-without-you frame of mind, both sadistic and too numb to feel pain. The sentiments can get feistier and more explicit (“Violently”, though “Hatchet” comes off with the force of a Florence Welch right hook) and it’s a well realized conflict of interests between male and female vocals, particularly with the former not being an especially macho lead for the latter to dominate.

Unfortunately a lot of it musically is outright ordinary. Despite all the elements being there – an adventuring theatricality, a hidden back story acting as the album’s engine room and a personality clash being at the forefront, its powers of captivation are not strong. For while there’s a solid film soundtrack in there somewhere, Archive may have to stay a strictly fans-only event.
File under: Kosheen, Hidden Orchestra, UNKLE