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Painted Romans – Song & Century

by François Zappa

Painted Romans, the “post-punk” project of Mats Davidsen is back with his fourth album, entitled Song & Century. The commas for post-punk are due to the fact that this album moves away from the genre and Mats becomes a darkfolk troubadour, as one could already sense with the release of his previous single Sing to the Child. It could be said that he maintains a certain post-punk spirit in the songs, but overall Song & Century is an album that fits perfectly into the darkfolk category. For this new work, Painted Romans has been reduced to Mats Davidsen himself (remember that we saw them in a trio formation in a streaming) although we have always known that he was the soul of the band. It was with their previous LP, titled Heart, in 2020 that we got to know the band and since then we have tried to inform our public of every of their releases. Also, thanks to that album we discovered Wallpaper Silhouettes, Mats’ previous band that has some very interesting material too.

Song & Century begins with “The Grind of All Regrets”, a track that reminds us of the link between neofolk and industrial music, and is a short introduction in which we already perceive some of the sounds and rhythms that we will have later in the rest of the work. Next comes a darkfolk composition like “Greasy Chain” that reminds us of the best Death in June with lyrics to make you stop and think. “Devil in Sourvenirs” is a delicate track with acoustics and a mysterious air, whose arrangements help to place it among the best of the album. On “Hangman Paradigm”, Mats starts out whispering over some mysterious oriental sounds but soon regains his normal register for the powerful chorus on another of the album’s great tracks. “The Kite” reminds me of those sort of dark tales that Paul Roland did so well, with its dark touch but with a hint of innocence. It has a medieval vibe. On the other hand, “Mission” is an original track with an important role for the electronic drums. Mats starts whispering in a spooky way, the pounding rhythm never stops, and the track becomes a perfect soundtrack for one of your nightmares. We return to folk with “Sing to the Child” which we reviewed when it was released as a single and which is another highlight of the album. “The Dept of Love Bereft” is darkfolk with surprising arrangements, and Mats singing with a sombre tone. “More so your taste in Music” is reminiscent of Death In June, but this time in a giggly and fun way. The lightness of the lyrics contrasts with Mats’ solemn tone. Song & Century ends with “The Butcher’s Kiss”, another great composition with original arrangements. Overall, an album to keep believing in Painted Romans.

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