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Maryrose Crook with the Renderers - Ghosts of our Vegas Lives

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Artist: Maryrose Crook with the Renderers

Album: Ghosts of our Vegas Lives

Label: 3 Beads of Sweat

Review date: Feb. 26, 2006

It’s been over seven years since New Zealand’s Renderers last put out a record. But Maryrose Crook’s first line - ”Burn your houses down and cry your tears to some God lurking by the beds so empty, where grief is new born” - serves notice that they’ve stayed the course. The 10 songs on Ghosts Of Our Vegas Lives portray hopelessness, addiction, heartbreak, and regret as doggedly as Manet painted haystacks.

Which isn’t to suggest that they’re stuck in place. This record started life as a solo album, and it certainly feels quite different from the Renderers’ other records. That’s partly due to the judicious touches of trumpet and strings that make this their most deftly colored and tonally varied record. But more important, where their other albums liberally feature the deathly croak of Crook’s husband Brian, here Maryrose handles all things singing. Heard next to him, her resigned country twang seems quite sweet; without such contrast, this record sustains a more consistent mood of troubled, dreamy melancholy. Even the songs with brisker tempos seem to issue from some dark corner of the psyche rather than a pair of speakers.

Brian might not sing, but he’s still quite present. His splendid guitar leads, which range from the title tune’s distant cries of rue to a Stooges-like wah-wah meltdown on “Sea Of Total Darkness,” are the hellhound on Maryrose¹s trail. Bassist Thom Bell (who appears on recent David Kilgour records) and drummer Robbie Yeats, returning after a one-album lay-off, are right behind him, ensuring that things never get too funereal. Ghosts Of Our Vegas Lies signals the welcome return of a band that’s spent too long in the wasteland

By Bill Meyer

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