Deathbed Confessions Introduction
Deathbed Confessions is the debut album of Victor & The Bully, who have been around since 2013. During that time they’ve been busy touring around Britain getting their name known on the steampunk circuit. In this review, I’m having a listen to see if it’s worthy of staying in my CD collection.
Deathbed Confessions costs £10 and is available from their BigCartel page here: Victor and The Bully album
Deathbed Confessions Overview
The name “Deathbed Confessions” conjures up images of misery and grief. I expected the album to be full of ballads. I expected it to be sad and morose, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the boys from Sidcup have managed to add a layer of complexity to their music by taking this typically bleak style and manage to make it a fun compilation of vibrant songs.
The relation to the “Deathbed” is that all the songs have some link to death or – thought-provokingly – life.
The album crashes in with a grand effort of slow pounding drums, deep synthesizers and angelic choir voices. This is merely a short intro to the main feature of 12 more tracks, but sets us up for the rest of the album.
As I mentioned previously, the tracks cover life as well as death. The latter also goes one further and the second track takes a humorous look at working as a grim reaper. It suggests reaping as a business and even has a mock foreman announcing tips during what seems like some kind of orientation. The final verse is the most interesting because it covers the temptation of wielding that amount of power, as he extracts revenge on someone who bullied him as a child.
Another witty song that covers death is Devil’s Got My Soul. It explores what he would do if he’d signed his soul to the Devil and had all the Earthly luxuries and materialistic possessions that it would bring.
The track called Life doesn’t deal with it in the traditional way. It works it’s way through a person’s lifetime with each verse listing a slightly older stage of growing up. Suit Up deals with friendship in a carefree time of life and living it to its fullest. There’s even an amusing slurry drunk chorus at the end from Victor.
One particular song I wish to draw attention to is Letting Go. Setting a scene as a song sung in a pub with friends, we hear the piano playing at a traditional London pub of the olden days while the sound of shoes march up to the doors. As the doors open, the Drums, Guitar and Ukelele kick in. The song talks about relationships and how you can get fed up of your other half so you kill them by throwing them under a bus. Then you realise that you can’t live without them, so you dig them up and keep them around. Because you have a deceased corpse as your partner, you are free to do whatever you want.
But it’s the instrumental that takes on a life of its own. Every time I listen to it, it sparks a nostalgic moment of a memory. Images of being a small child at a family gathering, or spending time with friends on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon. It’s a rare accomplishment to be able to trigger this kind of feeling in a complete stranger. Similar songs by other artists include Tea and Toast by Lucy Spraggan and Ode to My family by The Cranberries. The contrast of the upbeat music and macabre storyline are intriguing.
There’s a number of layers in the music that suggests a wisdom far too mature for chaps of this age. They recognise and acknowledge areas of life, death, family and friendship that I would expect to come to someone much more advanced in years.
Deathbed Confessions Conclusion
Deathbed Confessions is a grandiose album of big band music, choral angels, pianos and the unmistakable tinkle of the Ukelele. Fascinatingly, the Ukelele isn’t that prominent in the music. Mr B uses a Banjolele and that is generally the loudest instrument. The Uke that Victor uses seems more of an accompaniment to the rest of the music.
The lyrics are extremely clever with serious notes mixed in with black humour in such songs as Worked to Death. Victor and The Bully have an ecletic list of inspirations such as Cabaret, Circus, Classical, Metal and Mariachi. Indeed, there seems to be influences of Irish folk music in there along with the many other styles that the boys have taken on to make their album.
I know I’m enjoying an album that I’m reviewing when I hum the songs while not listening to them. Or I start to memorise the words. I did both for this album. In fact I’ve struggled to find anything wrong with Deathbed Confessions. That’s unusual for me as there’s normally something on an album or track that I disagree with. In fact the only thing I could find wrong with it was that on the CD metadata, they’ve spelled Deathbed as Dethbed. That’s it. That’s the only fault.
Deathbed Confessions is a surprisingly upbeat album, considering the source material. It’s a pure dance album that makes you get up in the middle of whatever you’re doing to jump around the house. Or at least tap your toe. After all, we’re British.
The album reflects the enthusiasm and vigour of the boys during their live acts. I was lucky enough to see them live at A Splendid Day Out in Morecambe. I was blown away by their energetic act. Actually, not just that. I was also impressed with how they conducted themselves throughout the entire visit. They’re extremely polite chaps and have time to chat to you regardless of who you are. I think it’s traits like that which is a star quality that we should be impressing onto our children.
The album is available on BigCartel for £10 and you can get it from here: Victor & The Bully album on sale