It feels as if I’ve grown up with the music of the Saints. They're like a much older brother that I watched getting drunk, getting married and getting divorced when I was way too young to do any of those things. I still remember seeing the film clip (this was long before video, folks) for '(I’m) Stranded' on Countdown when I was eleven, and being unable to understand a word the singer was shouting. In 1983 I first got to see the Saints play live, and have been fortunate enough to catch them on several occasions since then, the most recent being December 2005. Chris Bailey, that once untelligible vocalist, has developed into a fine singer and shouter, as demonstrated on countless Saints albums and on a few interesting solo albums as well.
Imperious Delirium kicks off with 'Drunk in Babylon', leaving the Saints’ folky poppy days in the mid-1980s way behind. This is vintage garage punk, with Chris Bailey’s guitars set to stun. Bailey plays all the guitars on this album, whereas he’s had a lead guitarist on all other Saints releases. He handles lead duties well on this album, with short, tasty solos where necessary.
You might be waiting for the brass, strings and chorus girls to come in, but Imperious Delirium is all guitar, bass and drums. Throughout this album, Bailey’s two bandmates assert their musical talents. Caspar Wijnberg is a tremendous bass player, his low notes propelling songs like 'Drowning' and adding some great flourishes to 'Enough Is Never Enough'. Drummer Peter Wilkinson can thump with the best of ‘em, knows when to play thrashy and when to provide a bit of light and shade.
All through the album, Chris Bailey’s vocals are stunning. He’s rediscovered that snotty tone that helped to make the early Saints albums so special, but on slower tracks such as 'Other Side Of The World' and the closer 'War Of Independence', Bailey shows he can still really sing.
You probably won’t hear many of these songs on radio, but there are a lot of superb moments. Wicked wah-wah guitar on 'Declare War' and in the delicious riff that drives 'Trocadero'. The raw, punky rhythm and blues of 'Je Fuckin’ T’aime' that sounds like Them on speed. The jangly but still noisy ‘Other Side Of The World’ and 'So Close'. The acoustic guitars that embellish 'Getting Away With Murder' as Chris Bailey decries the state of this George Dubya world.
For the most part, this is a noisy, fast, punky album. Chris Bailey has continued to revel in the sounds of distorted electric guitars, as first rediscovered on 1997’s Howling. However, the Saints of the 21st century do not sound like, and are not trying to sound like, the Saints of those legendary first three albums in the late 1970s. And how could they, without the musical and lyrical talents of the great Ed Kuepper and the pivotal drumming of Ivor Hay? No, this is simply the latest in the long line of Saints line-ups and albums, and long may they prosper.
You can hear 'Enough Is Never Enough' and 'Trocadero' in their entirety on the Saints' MySpace page. These should be enough to convince you that this album is well worth seeking out.