This Friday, UK dark rockers PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER deliver their hugely engrossing new album, Fantasy Reigns. We asked the band to give us an in-depth exclusive track by track breakdown of the album:
“In My Blood
The lyric for this song was inspired, in part, by the poem ‘Thought Fox’ by Ted Hughes.
Vern – ‘It struck a chord with me from the first read. On the surface, a description of the ‘writers block’ we all experience as poets. But beneath the symbolism and dark undertones is a glorious description of his very thoughts emerging from the wilderness. The dark, musty truth. In My Blood explores my own ‘need’ to find the darkest, primordial drive that lies behind our daily existence, in order to write anything at all’
Dark and broody until it reaches full pace, this opener encapsulates the Thought Fox behind Fantasy Reigns; do we retreat into fantasy worlds of Social Media, Fake News and tribal nostalgia out of denial or have these distractions become a convenient way to keep us abiding by a failing status quo? Don’t we all need the wilderness?
A wise man once said ‘If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired’. The same goes for a song named Machine Gun and we guarantee that the gun well and truly goes off in the second act. Alternatively, imagine an angry mammoth finally escaping from a tar pit. Chris (drummer) played rhythm guitar on this one. He likes Stoner Rock.
The first track written for the album, it evolved out of a short piece of intro music we’d put together for our live show. It turned into the longest song we’ve ever recorded! The arrangement you hear was the third take, we knew it had to be an immersive, driving track that felt like a voyage and this is what spilled out in the moment. There’s so much going on in this song that it inspired lots of the ideas, musically and thematically, for the rest of the album. Writing an epic track first off also freed us to concentrate on tightening the arrangements of the other songs, so in many ways it feels like the heart of the album.
Something Going on Up There
This was the second track we recorded and it definitely turned into a ‘less is more’ kind of song; we found that the more we stripped away, the more atmospheric it became. It’s a tune for big, cloudless horizons and heat haze at dusk and it really provides a breather after the mayhem of Belly of the Whale.
Some songs more or less write themselves and this is one of them. It might be (mostly) in the progger-than-thou time signature of 5/4, but we prefer to think of it as an off pisté waltz through life’s darkest recesses and the frightening increase in our numbness to moral decay. From lecherous film producers and paedophiles in high places, to the bankers unpunished and remorseless following the crash. Has overexposure to human cruelty led us to accept, even expect, this of all mankind? Let’s hope not. I hope that we all ‘care if we’re naughty or nice’.
We were determined to experiment and vent our wildest imaginations and this is one collective fever dream that really paid off! Si made a beautifully understated demo and, instead of building on it as we normally do, we reduced it down even further. It’s a really haunting moment on the album, like stumbling into a dilapidated ballroom at the end of a pier to find ghosts performing a swan song.
This one almost got abandoned! It started out as a really sludgy dirge but it finally came together when we sped it right up with the breakbeat and Andy added the psychotic surf guitar line. That gave it the paranoid, fearful atmosphere that Vern’s lyric demanded. It’s the most overtly political thing he’s ever written. Despite being a very dark track it makes us really happy; we persevered and it transformed into something unlike anything we’ve done before, but it feels like exactly the sort of thing we should be doing!
The grand Finale (featuring conga by Simon’s son)! Fantasy Reigns isn’t a concept album! It’s themed by virtue of the fact that we’re shaped by, and reacting to, the world around us. We live at a time when a lot of social, political, environmental and technological factors are coming to a head. Bubbles look set to burst and it’s quite hard to find a shred of hope amongst the bad news flooding our timelines and newsfeeds, but, for the final song we wanted to turn the idea that fantasy reigns on its head and let in a chink of light. Maybe if it’s still possible to dream of better times then it’s still possible to build a better reality. “