Like countless other musicians of the '70s and '80s, Peter Murphy has mellowed out considerably since his early days, when he was frontman and lead vampire for Goth greats Bauhaus. Unlike many of his middle-aged counterparts, however, Peter Murphy has aged well musically, as evidenced by his enjoyable fourth release, Cascade.
Though never as innovative as Bauhaus or as engaging as his second solo effort, Deep, Murphy's solid Cascade surpasses his last effort, Holy Smoke (which can be found in any bargain bin in America). Kindler and gentler than earlier attempts, while still eerie and plaintive in that trademark Murphy way, Cascade may not win over any new converts, but it should delight any longtime fans who are wondering how the Goth King has been keeping himself busy.
But always keep in mind that this isn't Bauhaus. While the droning bass hook and evil Murphy murmur of "Disappearing" may conjure up memories of "Stigmata Martyr," most of the songs on Cascade center around synth beats and lack the maniacal urgency of Bauhaus, having more to do with adult contemporary Britpop than Gothic angst. "Huuvola" demonstrates this mellowing most effectively, as it begins with an old-school funeral drum march that is soon replaced by Celtic toms and female vocals.
Nevertheless, much can be said for Murphy's newfound maturity. Seeming happier (or at least more comfortably resigned to sorrow) than he ever has, Murphy can still produce catchy contemplative tunes that should appeal to a wide range of listeners. True, he occasionally stands in danger of morphing into a second-rate Peter Gabriel (as on "Mercy Rain"), but most of the time his compositional skill and unique voice creaste some very enjoyable music. More sedate, yet still enticing, Peter Murphy's Cascade proves that Bela Lugosi may not be dead after all.