Allowing copying comes in many guises. Bands are digging into the treasure trove of musical history all the time – when they are so inspired by a single source we can be kind and say they are paying homage to them. Only when we dislike the end result do terms like ‘copycat’ come out.
Here Are The Roses from Dragons is a difficult case because, damnit, I’m getting to like it. 85% of it, at least, would not, could not have existed had Joy Division not come into being. There is a little late Jesus & Mary Chain (well someone’s been listen to Bobby Gillespie’s take on Mo Tucker’s drumming, anyway), a soupcon of Depeche Mode and even a hint of Heaven 17 when they dive too deep into the stark electronic sounds.
Their bundle of influences is very similar to those of Editors, to whom they will no doubt be compared, particularly when it comes to the many sections of repeated guitar notes on songs like the bitter yet tentatively hopeful Lonely Tonight.
But Dragons are very open in their adoration, doesn’t that count for something? From the initial jangly guitars and droning, depressed-sounding end of title track Here Are The Roses when that phrase is repeated over and over, through singer Anthony Tombling Jnr’s harsh vocal mannerisms to the majority of the song titles – Condition, Treasure, Obedience, Forever. I would bet a considerable sum that several Joy Division fans could be persuaded one of these was a Joy Division outtake, especially the monumental and fleetingly hopeful Forever, which uses layers of sound to built to a climax that is almost exuberant. As I listen I cannot help but think “well, if you’re going to take chunks of 80s electronica as your source, they’ve certainly taken the right chunks… and surely I would be glad if there was another Joy Division album in the world so…
This is a good album but not an original one. It’s well structured from bitter to contemplative to mildly hopeful. It flows, there’s enough change of pace to keep you interested if you already like the mix of electronic effects and guitar, and contains several strong tunes (Trust, Here Are The Roses, Forever).
The lyrics are rather earnest and suitably miserable to appeal to the inhabitants of Bedsitland. Tombling and partner David Francolini (former drummer with Levitation and Dark Star) have clearly constructed their songs carefully and are masters at what they do; their work has a hovering darkness, a brooding edge to it, but then so did Joy Division’s.