Review Summary: Changing from eerie sounds and unashamedly distinctive musical styles, 'The Sky's gone out' sees Bauhaus reach their career peak, even if they would break up one year later. Regardless if you like the band or not, this record may interest you somewhat.
By 1982 Bauhaus had already achieved quite a lot of mainstream success, the incredibly diverse début 'In the Flat Field' and equally as distinctive follow-up 'Mask' generating attention from even the biggest media outputs of the world, including horribly harsh reviews from NME and 'Sounds' magazine. And the band hadn't even been together for five years yet. It just goes to show that, whatever you may think of them, their music certainly had an outstandingly powerful effect on everyone (including the burgeoning Gothic Rock and Post-Punk music scenes). However, this success didn't stop the band from experimenting with their sound further. As one can quite clearly grasp from the band's third and fourth records, 'The Sky's gone out' and 'Burning the inside out', the band did not show any signs of giving up at all.
With 'The Sky's gone out', Bauhaus not only succeed in keeping their music at an interesting and unique level, but also manage to express the darkest and most sorrowful emotions in more than just a few musical styles. Thing is, the music isn't even needed to convince people that Bauhaus were an utterly distinctive band. Just look at each of their album covers. 'In the Flat Field' depicts a man (who appears to be) either blowing a percussion instrument or swinging a long, blunt object. 'Mask' looks like it could have been drawn by a toddler. 'The Sky's gone out' seems to be a looming black hole. You get the general idea.
Of course, the music itself on 'The Sky's gone out' is equally as thought-provoking. With a three-part epic, a very well executed cover version of 'Ziggy Stardust', and one track that is basically dominated by dialogue between two people, it seems that, structurally wise at least, Bauhaus' third effort is different to the first two. Right from the very start you can tell that Bauhaus tried to make this as distinctive possible. 'Third Uncle' features a rumbling bass line, congas alongside drums, guitar notes fading in and out, and of course, some very interesting lyrics. As Murphy almost chants the repetitive words 'There are...' throughout, everything seems fully focussed, fast-paced and frenetically experimental. Of course, this is just one example of the band's overpowering creativity on 'The Sky's gone out'.
Each and every song displays a different emotion, though these emotions are very much by-products of depression and sadness. On the very solemn yet equally as sinister 'Silent Hedges', Murphy croons and wails his way as he is 'going to hell again' and 'looking into purple eyes'. On the extremely eerie, almost industrial 'Swing the Heartache' Murphy moans that “if I had been uglier, it would have been easier”, giving off yet another great aspect of his vocal talent. On the epic closer and definitively diverse 'Exquisite Corpse', Murphy goes through quite a lot of vocal techniques. His simplistic recurring words “Life is but a dream”, his beautifully handled voice against a harmoniously repetitive keyboard melody, and his crazed shout that sounds almost as if it could have ripped his own throat out wherein the album's title is put into play, all contribute to the significance of 'The Sky's gone out' in Bauhaus' whole career. A lot of Post-Punk bands in the 80's seemed to leave the vocals to the side and concentrate fully on the atmosphere of the music itself, which is understandably relevant too, but to get truly depressing emotions and make them come alive within the music itself is fully helped thanks to Murphy's excessively diverse vocals.
It isn't all about the vocals however. The performance of each instrument itself also serves as a significance all of its own. The acoustic guitar led 'All we ever wanted was Everything' develops into a truly magical song, as a clear sense of melancholy comes forth within the atmosphere of the music itself. There are fast-paced, punk inspired songs in the interestingly eerie 'In the Night', in which guitars sway to and fro with enough energy to match six cans of Red Bull. The epic structures of 'The three shadows' and 'Exquisite Corpse' have more than enough room for every single instrument to show itself, as magical keyboards swirl, extravagantly strange yet satisfying guitar notes prove their worth and sounds taken from life itself (including a brief snore from one of the band's members!) give a sense of harsh reality, which is in fact what 'The Sky's gone out' is all about.
Nonetheless, you may find one or two boring tracks here if Bauhaus just don't fit your mood. The slightly disturbing yet fully repetitive 'Party of the first Part' showcases dialogue between a contract manager and a female singer, in which scenes of terror embark throughout. However, it is only marred by the fact that it isn't actually a song, but merely snippets of dialogue with some atmospheric music lingering in the background. Listeners may also be exhausted by the constant changes in sound throughout, but it is no lie that 'The Sky's gone out' takes more than one brief listen to fully understand its importance in Bauhaus' career.
Many prefer the band's début or 'Mask' as the band's best album, but with 'The Sky's gone out', almost everything had changed in the space of one short year. Sure, the depressive passages of 'The three Shadows' and 'All we ever wanted was Everything' may put some listeners off, but this is only to emphasise the fact that, whatever Bauhaus wanted to achieve with this, their third effort, they were one of the true leaders of the first wave of Post-Punk and Gothic Rock. If you have listened to any of the band's other albums and liked them, there is a large degree certainty that you will like this too. If you don't like Bauhaus at all but haven't listened to 'The Sky's gone out', you may want to give a try. Just know this: the music and lyrics never get 'happy', and if it sounds like it is 'happy', the band are only being sarcastic.