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Th' Faith Healers - Peel Sessions

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Artist: Th' Faith Healers

Album: Peel Sessions

Label: Ba Da Bing

Review date: Mar. 11, 2006

Th’ Faith Healers strangely managed to blend the glazed-eyed stare of Krautrock with the jittery urgency of punk rock, and they always seemed too whimsical to go too far in one direction or the other. Their songs mostly consisted of two or three not-altogether-serious lines (sometimes arranged into a verse and chorus, sometimes not) sung over and over. Their songs were so un-songy that their cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” in the middle of Peel Sessions feels like a revelation.

Th’ Faith Healers’ lack of regard for traditional songwriting shouldn’t necessarily be counted against them, though – their greatest strength was Tom Cullinan’s guitar playing, which here can be either sharply focused or meandering. In both cases, he fills a pretty amazing amount of space, and even when frontwoman Roxanne Stephen stops singing and Cullinan plays solo-like passages, the lack of overdubs is never a problem. Cullinan’s guitar, which has a strangely disembodied sound, like he left his wah pedal on and about halfway down, is noisy without being noise, attention-grabbing without being ostentatious.

Peel Sessions collects four of the EP-length sessions that Th’ Faith Healers recorded for the BBC, all between 1992 and 1994. By the last session, Th’ Faith Healers’ songs had evolved (somewhat) – their structures had became more complex and Stephen’s melodies got more limber and less predictable. Though their driving rhythms remained, their songs were less urgently punky, as they replaced some of the catharsis of their earlier material with a trickier, more jittery sound. Th’ Faith Healers broke up in 1994 - with Cullinan moving on to form the band Quickspace - but the music on Peel Sessions remains vital.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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