CD, Abstraktsens Produktions, 2007
Military pop, an exciting and rousing progression from the neo-folk and martial industrial scenes, steadily gaining popularity throughout the last decade. The catchy melodies of modern pop music fused with the traditional strains of marching bands, a stirring call to arms for the post-modernist Eurocentric foot soldiers of the new millennium. Smartly turned out young men in neatly pressed shirts and shining boots, marching in unity with pride in their hearts! But where would these men be without fine women to accompany them? And here they come, advancing briskly, elegant and stern maidens, regulation black bobbed haircuts, spotless uniforms, cruel jackboots.
In keeping with this romantic imagery it would seem most appropriate that when the women of the military pop scene speak they should speak with clarity and maturity, and when they sing it should be with subtle passion or cold neutrality. The as yet relatively unknown French act Life’s Decay have recently become one of those rare female fronted military pop groups and so have a head start in standing out from the slowly growing crowd. Unfortunately, Alea’s vocals, sung at all times in her native language, are weak and annoying, an insipid childlike attempt at portraying seduction or madness. While this immature and slightly dubious vocal style might be acceptable in some kind of fetish orientated darkwave or sexually themed mainstream pop, it sounds inappropriate here and even suggests an attempt to disguise the inherent failings in her vocal abilities.
This is a shame as the music of Life’s Decay is generally well executed throughout. Military snares drive the marches forward, nostalgic strings provoke the emotions and precise melodies effectively take residence in the mind for days to come. The few tracks sans Alea are naturally the album’s stronger points; “Stukarcht” has moody spoken words from main protagonist, Lyktwasst, supported by a thick, dirty bass guitar and explosive drumming, but is over all too soon. “Sziktalia” follows effectively with even heavier percussion and an ominous English sample commanding somebody to “stop it”! On the other hand, the sickly sweet singing and irritating shrieks ruin otherwise convincing tunes, such as “Katalena” with its insistent, menacing piano lead, or “Claressa”, a moving piece of emotive chimes and tragic cello.
Life’s Decay have certainly got the potential to become a major force within this still small scene of military pop, but as the singer is the focal point of any pop group this one really is holding them back, but then taste is a peculiar thing so don’t let a few little girl vocals put you off!
— Nathan Clemence