I often hear it argued that "Script of the Bridge" is the greatest album the Chameleons have released, which in my opinion is patently absurd. Yes, it is a phenomenal album. I hear complaints that this album wasn't mastered perfectly and to that end, I agree and hope that an eventual remastering is coming down the line.
That aside, what I listened to when hearing this album was the quality of the melodies themselves. It all starts with a synthesizer lulling you into a calm before the storm ... "Silence Seas and Sky", appropriately titled.
then you are hit with the blistering opening riff of "Perfumed Garden" which grows into a wall of sound. The swirling guitars and thoughtfull lyrics bring you into another reality. Garden is about the facade of pop music and how emptiness is preferred over meaning. Think of any pop star you know and try to decipher a strong message in their music and you can see what the intent of this song is. It stabs at mediocrity in the music business. This message was truly ahead of its time and was also a common theme in Morrissey's lyrics.
Quietness resumes and the sound of rain and a light guitar fading in with some very tactful strings introduce the next song and my favorite track on the album "Intrigue in Tangier's". Being a musician, I pulled this song apart piece by piece thinking it had to be complex but I found that it was indeed quite simple ... only a few chords. What made it so interesting is that the guitars layer upon each other and creating a swirling, reverberating, delayed panning smorgasbord of sounds and notes that with my eyes closed and a pair of head phones on, had my pupils darting back and forth behind the lids seeking out every noise and sound. The changes and vocals emphasize the urgency of the songs message which appears to be remembering the moments and coming to terms with mortality and precious the time you are given and how quickly that time passes.
"Return of the Roughnecks" and "Singing Rule Britannia" are reworks of similar chord progressions arranged differently and the guitar intro roars in another tapestry of swirling and weaving framework. The drums, though dated by the snare sound push the songs along at a mesmerizing pace.
"On the Beach", appears to be a song about seeing a ghost or something unexplainable and trying to come to terms with it. This tune sees the guitars mired in heavy effects and wash the listener into a welcome weariness as to not take away from the heavy vocals.
"Looking Inwardly" is probably the low spot on the album. It lulls with introspection and is a primarily bass driven song with simplistic guitars. The builds are what keeps the song from falling in on itself. This was my least favorite song on the album.
However, as quickly as the last track disappears into the ether, the next track comes forward to save you. "One Flesh" fades in with veiled power and then the guitars deliver you into yet another wall of sound. "With the Sun in your eyes" ... vocally, I found this to be one of the strongest songs and is easily my second favorite. The message it seems, is about staying in abusive relationships. The drums are tactful and lend well to some of the best musicianship on the album.
The band give the listener a breather with "P.S. Goodbye" which is tasteful on all accounts with all instruments including the voice. Not sure what the message is in this song but it appears as if Mark Burgess (The Lead Vocalist/bassist/lyricist) is trying to explain his muse.
The breather quickly ends and "In Shreds" begins. I have read somewhere that this is one of the first songs from the band. It belies some of their more punk rock origins (I'm guessing) and is a very dark song. "Ignored by you all, I stumble and fall, I suddenly knew
My life meant nothing at all, The whore in my bed, The noise in my head
The hole in my pride, It's coming and there's nowhere to hide". I remember hearing this song in clubs in the late 80's and early 90's which always elicited a huge response form the crowd. Hard to believe many of them didn't even know who the Chameleons were, and sad in a way.
The album finishes with a song that is sort of the happy ending, at least musically. "Nostalgia" again reflects on the passage of time and the worry that you may miss the moments and only be able to appreciate them when thinking back upon them. It seems like with a friend who was there and can help you recall. The guitars maintain the theme of layering upon one another and for some reason when I hear it I think of driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I must have had the tape on perpetual replay.
In short, This album transcends all other albums because it creates an audio tapestry and actually speaks to the listener much in the same way that OK Computer or Synchronicity did. The Chameleons never enjoyed mainstream success but the people they touched, they touched forever in ways that many other bands will never be capable of. This album exemplifies that sentiment and I wholeheartedly recommend it without reserve.