Pale Saints: 30th Anniversary Vinyl

11th March 2020

Title: The Comforts of Madness

Label: 4AD

Formed in 1987 in Leeds, the band’s third demo recording attracted the attention of 4AD’s Ivo Watts-Russell who saw the group play in 1989. And what a show that was: Pale Saints and that other legendary shoegaze outfit Lush on as support! Blimey. Three months later, the band was recording a session for John Peel. How quickly fame comes upon us.

Sometimes referred to dream pop but I like the old fashioned shoegaze tag myself that combined a whole host of influences from West Coast USA to post punk to classic indie to psychedelia. But hey, that’s shoegaze for you. 

The Comforts of Madness (1990) became the band’s debut LP including the tracks Sight of You, You Tear The World In Two and a cover of Opal’s Fell From the Sun. 

It’s been 30 years, how time flies and the band’s lead vocalist, Ian Masters revisited the band’s sessions where they demoed the album at their Woodhouse Studio before heading to the Blackwing Studios in London to record the album. These unreleased album demos plus the band’s only John Peel Session (recorded 23 July 1989 at Maida Vale studios in London) help to create a bonus disc of material for this double LP edition.

The music itself contrasts wildly between Masters’ almost choral lead vocal and the often manic, complex instrumental backing before slotting into a more rhythmic yet still energetic and often atmospheric musical flow that’s full of ideas.

Mastering is excellent. Low in noise, high in terms of clarity and transparency, there’s a real sense of the soundstage offering a layered array of instruments and voices here. The effect is to provide a nicely three dimensional area over the stereo image. Frequency discipline is retained too, nothing misbehaves. This is a fine reissue.

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