David Cronenberg’s Wife sneaked into the music scene at the tail end of the decade like naughty gatecrashers at a posh student party, urinating in the punchbowl and gobbing in the communal bowl of cold rice, then trying to engage the self-consciously fashionable boys and girls at the soiree with their observations on paedophilia, perverse morgue workers and abusive relationships. In a decade which saw a lot of cute, prissy and inoffensive kids with guitars say close to bugger-all about anything, they reintroduced startling lyrical dexterity, and disturbing themes which sat just on the right side of gothic melodrama.
It’s somewhat strange, then, that their best single also happens to be the one which was the most lyrically basic, consisting of scattergun observations, nonsense phrases and the demanding repetition of the title for the chorus. Whether the idea of a runaway pram was a reference to the pram in the film Battleship Pontemkin, or some metaphor for life itself, or even a description of a clapped-out old Citreon 2CV is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, Runaway Pram worked like a charm, also opening the fantastic Bluebeard’s Rooms album like a statement of intent. Twanging guitars clash with Clinic-esque screeching keyboards, siren effects, and Mancunian vocals sung through gritted teeth to make this seem like the opening theme to a crazed B-movie project. The song splurges up like a volcanic geyser, peaks and then splutters out at the end with a cheeky, solitary guitar twang – a final, threatening little afterthought.
DCW may have spent the last couple of years largely being ignored by the mainstream media, and in many respects seem too contrary and eccentric to ever truly cross over – but next decade may see one of two things; either a surprise hit, or a surprise splash story about their “sick” lyrical content in one of the tabloids. Place your bets now.
[Album: Bluebeard’s Rooms]