Last year I wrote about a Cindy Lee album that blew my mind. This year, the same label, Superior Viaduct's W.25TH imprint, is putting out an even earlier, rarer Cindy Lee album. Called Act Of Tenderness, the record is perhaps more haunting and unsettling than Malenkost. In a word: I love it.
Numbers here progress with a stately wrong-ness, with selections like "Power and Possession" offering up pleasures both eerie and beautiful. Things remain objectively calm until a burst of static and noise arrives during "New Romance" and a listener is taken back to the days when bands like His Name Is Alive made music that actually seemed as challenging as it was beautiful. If parts of Act Of Tenderness are genuinely lovely, something like "Operation" seems starkly discordant, a blast of electro-pop that confuses amid its own catchy hooks. Elsewhere, "Quit Doing Me Wrong" is even more abrasive, swatches of old His Name Is Alive records again being recalled by Cindy Lee's Patrick Flegel here, while "Bonsai Garden" ventures closer to territory occasionally occupied by Throbbing Gristle and other industrial pioneers. And while there are plenty of numbers like that on Act Of Tenderness, there are a few that are legitimately pleasant, like the faux-folk of "Wandering And Solitude", a track that is as haunting as it is easy on the ears. Still, this record remains a challenging listen, perhaps more so than Malenkost, as here, on the earlier Act Of Tenderness, Patrick Flegel seemed intent on pushing buttons in order to offer up something genuinely transcendent and transgressive.
Act Of Tenderness is out today via Superior Viaduct's W.25TH imprint.