The Mekons
Fear And Whiskey


5.0
classic

Review

by derho USER (31 Reviews)
December 15th, 2012 | 18 replies


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We know that for many years there's been no country here. Nothing here but the war.

When there’s nothing to distract us, we are sometimes forced to face the reality of ourselves. It can be harrowing, and, for the most part, we’re made to go it alone. The world can be grim, and sometimes it can sap you of all hope. Yesterday, I sat down with my bowl of cereal and ate while the T.V. talked at me. I heard, but pretended I didn’t. When I was finished, I washed out my bowl. Quietly, I made my way to my room, shut the door, and turned on the Mekon’s “Fear and Whiskey.”

This is a story of cold, lonely highways, quiet places, and the darker corners of the mind; of having just enough foresight to see to the next dim, flickering streetlight. “I was out late the other night,” Rico Bell croaks over a descending line of glistening keys as heart-wrenchingly stunning as an angel tumbling down the spiral stairs. “Fear and whiskey kept me going.” Susie Honeyman’s violin swirls the atmosphere like the doleful wail of a traincar piercing an otherwise silent night. It’s candid like a kiss on the cheek and slap on the face from a stranger.

Here there is no preaching, no pity, just pain and understanding. When Bell says its “Hard to be Human Again,” he’s speaking as much to himself as he is to us. Sharp power-chords, grooving dance rhythms, and sparse ho-down arrangements meld to form something unique yet not wholly unfamiliar. It’s inviting even at its most terrifying. The uneasy “Psycho Cupid” finds us in the middle of a young girl’s existential meltdown, never quite resolved. Sally Timms whispers into our ears, with a soft, brooding beauty, poetry that seems so natural it couldn’t have been invented.

“Fear and Whiskey” seems logical in context, a product of the veil of disillusionment Thatcherism cast upon Britain. Before the record was made, the band spent a year supporting the now infamous Miner’s Strike in mid-80s. They came away from the experience, much like the nation’s unions, battered and worn. Despite, or perhaps because of, these circumstances, the album has an incredible amount of universality. Rather than a leftist political statement, it’s a manifesto for the lost, the frightened, the bored, and the miserable. Yes, that means all of us.

Through the hopelessness, there is, undeniably, hope. “Last Dance” reminds us that, even if it’s disappeared on us before, love always returns. When “Lost Highway” comes around to close things off, we may not know quite where we’re going, but at least we’re going somewhere. Overwhelming humanity makes “Fear and Whiskey” the masterpiece that it is. There was power enough between the grooves of this record to help rekindle for me, in a time of need, my love and faith in people. Can anyone really ask for more?

10/10



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user ratings (41)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Cygnatti
December 15th 2012


30412 Comments


cool, I need to check this out

derho
December 15th 2012


307 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You should. First album besides Spiderland that's had a real powerful effect on me in a really really long time.

Cygnatti
December 18th 2012


30412 Comments


this is just awesome

derho
January 16th 2013


307 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

wow glad you enjoyed it! Didn't see this comment until just now. It grows on me so much every time I listen to it.

EaglesBecomeVultures
March 21st 2013


5441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

goddamnit derho you fucking rule

Cygnatti
March 21st 2013


30412 Comments


alt country 4 da win

derho
March 23rd 2013


307 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Shucks. Thanks man

Inveigh
April 13th 2013


26073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this rules hard

Digging: Diamond Head - Diamond Head

Inveigh
September 3rd 2013


26073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

mad underrated album

Cygnatti
September 3rd 2013


30412 Comments


I should jam this more.

Inveigh
September 3rd 2013


26073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

man it's so good, i need to get more of their stuff. this is the only album i have.

Funeralopolis
March 19th 2015


13915 Comments


how is this even remotely country?

Digging: Tanya Tagaq - Retribution

theBoneyKing
October 21st 2016


5611 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is fucking amazing. Instant 5 (sort of, as I've already listened to it 6 times in 24 hours, but close enough).

Digging: LSD and the Search for God - LSD and the Search for God

theBoneyKing
October 26th 2016


5611 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm obsessed with this record right now.

NorthernSkylark
October 30th 2016


7876 Comments


Would i dig?

Digging: The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass

theBoneyKing
October 30th 2016


5611 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's worth a try. The first half is very post-punk with some subtle country flavors, very neat and pretty unique to my ears. The second half is basically proto-alt-country, more straightforward but still awesome. It's all tied together with themes of war, identity, and a bit of love, of course.

If that sounds good to you, go for it!

NorthernSkylark
November 5th 2016


7876 Comments


Sounds pretty good yeah

theBoneyKing
November 5th 2016


5611 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Darkness and Doubt" is like the best song ever. It was the first tune I heard from this (was listening to a playlist of the recent Paste top 50 alt-country albums list) and it was a total holy shit moment. Still my favorite song now that I've heard the full album.



The roo-oom was filled with fla-ashing li-ights

They spoke in tongues MWAAAAAA!!!!!

Darkness and doubt

Just follow me around



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