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Holy Smoke

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What do fearsome Goth-rockers do when they grow up? In Peter Murphy’s case, they start making vampire music for high-rise dwellers. How else to describe the lush and very adult production on Holy Smoke, his third U.S. solo album? The cadaverous Murphy is an alternative-rock darling, but that label is somewhat misleading, given the sophistication of the production here. He’s tamed his sometimes overweeningly dungeonish vocal stylings, and what’s left is an eerie, slightly disturbing croon. When those pipes address his mundane (”Love me now/Until the end of time”) and somewhat clunky (”Explode secrete your tender”) concerns, you don’t laugh as much as marvel at the drama of an erstwhile monster making music for humans. When the music and lyrics come together — as they often do — it’s almost touching, as on the sardonically named ”Hit Song,” which sounds to me like a vampire pleading for his mortality back. B

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