Review Summary: When a band switches genres, becomes more commercial, and less original...
Let's face it; The Sisters of Mercy is Andrew Eldritch. He pretty much made Floodland almost entirely by himself. After the disbanding of the original Sisters of Mercy lineup, he pretty much got into a fight with Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams over the name The Sisterhood. Eldritch hastily wrote a new song and released it under the moniker "The Sisterhood" so he could claim the name. If anything, him being a control freak broke up the original and superior lineup of The Sisters of Mercy during the "First and Last and Always". He wrote and mostly composed all of Floodland with Doktor Avalanche, a drum machine. He recruited a hot Goth chick named Patricia Morrison who didn't really contribute to the album, she was mostly used for PR and to promote the imagery of the band. Although Floodland was different from "First and Last and Always", the album still retained some of the gloom from the flawless gothic rock classic. However, the same cannot be said about "Vision Thing", an album named after a quotation used by the soon-to-be president George H.W. Bush.
Vision Thing is completely different from the sound of First and Last and Always, it is instantly noticed by the opening and title track "Vision Thing". The song is hard rock that is mixed in with some glam rock. Even this song differs from the sound of Floodland as Floodland is more downbeat than that of Vision Thing except for the song "Something Fast", a ballad... To compare Vision Thing to First and Last and Always is unfair as there was almost no way Andrew Eldritch could top that album alone by himself. To even compare this to Floodland is kind of unfair because that album is nearly flawless save for the song "Torch", however this album is a different beast.
The lyrics of the songs on this album also differs from that of the previous two albums, they are neither not nearly as creative nor as strong on this album. Typically those are the strong points of previous two albums. Also, what I have noticed at least is the fact that there is no real emotional connection to them. First and Last and Always can make you cry when you are in the right mood, Floodland can make you feel depressed and hate yourself, Vision Thing just does not convey the same emotions as the previous two albums. Something that can be noticed right off the bat is the lyrics to the opening track "Vision Thing", this is the first instance in which Andrew Eldritch says "mother***er". He has written "***" in the past on the track "Driven Like The Snow".
"*** me and marry me"
The thing about this song is the fact that it says "mother***er" more than once. The song seems to be ruined by the usage of the word throughout the song. It is rather a fun song and does describe imagery used in Floodland but this song seems to deal with the lifestyle of the rich and famous but yet the title "Vision Thing" itself derives from a political nature as it was said by a politician. The song just seems rather dry and fails to utilize the imagery that is described in the song itself.
My favorite song off this album is "Doctor Jeep" because it totally captures my attention; the guitar work is probably the best on the album. The synths played in this song remind me of that of "First and Last and Always". The lyrics seem to be about pop culture and actually a little political at times, this is definitely the best song on the album by far on the album. Doctor Jeep is the only song that saves this album from being rated at a 2 or a 2.5. The song is fun and catchy and probably the only reason to purchase this album or pirate it. (Naughty! Naughty!)
Although there are some hints of The Sister of Mercy's previous sound in the songs "Ribbons", "When You Don't See Me", and "More", a wannabe "This Corrosion", these songs lack the imagery and the melancholic nature of the previous sound that made that sound so unique and distinct from other bands out in the 80's. "Ribbons" being the closest attempt to capturing the nostalgic imagery on the album until Andrew Eldritch screams "INCOMING" several times throughout the song. It is rather annoying because there is no need for the screaming to be utilized, first off, they lack emotion, second off, it waters down the supposed to be melancholic nature of the song. It is meant to be a menacing song but this is overkill and almost unlistenable.
"When You Don't See Me" uses the double tracking that was used frequently throughout the choruses of a few songs of the last two albums. It is almost similar to "Black Planet" at some points throughout the song however it sounds like a 80's hair metal song. That is not a good thing. The chorus lacks but Andrew Eldritch's chorus writing has seemed to be the weak point of most of his songs when analyzed throughout the years. Lastly, there is the song "More", an eight minute song that is instantly compared to "This Corrosion" due to the length of the two songs. But, to put it blatantly, this song is a snooze fest, it lacks the fun and catchy nature of "This Corrosion". It is definitely a hard rock song but it sounds like it has been done before, the thing about "This Corrosion" that "More" completely lacks is the ability to dance to."This Corrosion" is ten minutes long but there not one point in the song where you want to skip it, the same cannot be said about "More". "More" is a failed attempt at writing a love song to be used as a single for crossover success via cutting the song down to 4 minutes most likely. The gospel undertones of "More" also is just annoying and out of place for The Sisters of Mercy.
Although the previous four songs have something that reminds one of the previous sound of The Sisters of Mercy, "Detonation Boulevard" is just a boring cliché hard rock song that has been heard and written several times before, the lyrics seem decent compared to that of "More" (Although it wouldn't take much), the sound though completely ruins any hints of originality within the genre. "Something Fast" is an unoriginal ballad that goes nowhere, does nothing to draw the listener into the song. It sounds like a hair metal ballad coated with some undertones of country and gospel, yuck!
Out of the three album closers that The Sisters of Mercy made, "I Was Wrong" is the worst by far. It is unfair to compare this boring song to the breathtaking and tear-jerking song that is "Some Kind of Stranger" but it wouldn't hurt to try to wrap up an already terrible album with a decent song" "Colours" is better than "I Was Wrong" and that song seems to be repetitive at times. However, "I Was Wrong" is dry and is a failed attempt at writing a ballad. It should be included on a "What not to write for ballads list", it is just unoriginal and boring. Those are the best words to describe that song.
Overall, if you are a newcomer to the band "The Sisters of Mercy", do not even bother listening to this album unless you are a singles person. "First and Last and Always" and "Floodland" are the albums to listen to first if you want to get familiar with the band first. This is a polarizing album among a lot of Sisters of Mercy fans as it should be. It is almost impossible to listen to the whole entire album even though it is 8 songs. The only song worth listening to is "Doctor Jeep"
3/5 (I need medical assistance from Doctor Jeep.)