It would be perhaps a misnomer to say that Mary’s Window is returning after 20 years as the band members have certainly been busy in that time; since the release of Not So Pretty… On the Inside, the group has continued to write new material, perform live, and engage in other projects, most notably The Joy Thieves. So, it might be cliché to say that with Goodbye She Said… I’m Off to Join the Circus, the band seems to have never left; after all, they never really did, but there is a comfort in hearing the record’s seven tracks and discovering that all is as raucous and unapologetically in-your-face as ever.
Dan Milligan’s drumming remains a force to be reckoned with, his attack on the skins comparable to that exhibited by the likes of Martin Atkins or even John Bonham, while the noisy guitars of vocalist Matthew Clark and Jeff “JH” Harris churn out riffs with the scalding hot fury of a rusting steel mill. This is especially so on a song like “30 Days, 1,000 Nights” as the use of feedback and noise is sure to make a few ears bleed in delightfully punk fashion, while the steely sliding acoustic guitars of “Third Rail Rhyme” makes for a nice bit of desert blues, the vocal harmonies adding to is subtly haunting vibe. Of course, the irony of that track being followed by “Never Sing the Blues” is quite palpable, but it does make for one of the record’s catchiest tracks, while the melodic riffs and strident groove of “Red Lights Through Broken Windows” almost evokes The Sisters of Mercy if Andrew Eldritch’s baritone croon were replaced by Clark’s more biting tone, Desiree Starr Harris’ shouting riot grrl accompaniment adding to the song’s enjoyment. Also, the way things go quiet in “The Colour of Your Cancer” for the line “I’m not that strong” to stand out is an excellent touch that emphasizes the vulnerability of the lyric against the unbridled belligerence and snarky energy of the album as a whole, the ending cover of Soul Side’s “Kill” ending things with a bit of ‘90s style alt. rock balladry that comes close to shoegazing.
One notable aspect to this album is the inclusion of Like a Dirty French Novel, originally to have been recorded with Steve Albini in 1999, but ultimately shelved after being independently undertaken by Clark and Bob Pucci. Listening to these songs after the seven new recordings only helps prove the strength of Mary’s Window’s sound and style; songs like the shout-along rocker “Handshake For Heidi,” “Lithium Girl” with its distorted vocal treatments, and the ominous “Bitter Than You,” the creeping menace of its chromatic bass progression and the vocal interplay leading to a vicious chorus all sound just as fresh now as they would’ve two decades ago. With two albums for the price of one, Goodbye She Said… I’m Off to Join the Circus is not just a scorching return for Mary’s Window – finely crafted, fiercely tuned, and fucking awesome!