The The: Dusk (Epic Records). MATT Johnson, The The's composer, lyricist and guiding light, has a vocal style best described as malevolent. When Johnson sings of love on the Dusk track Love is Stronger Than Death, the twisted emotions seep from his tortured vocal chords. Add to this extraordinary voice an ability to pen lyrics which are intelligent if twisted, an attractive sense of melody, and you have the reasons why The The has attracted such a cult following over the years. This latest offering sees Johnson again using ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to great effect, with Marr cranking up the volume and using heavy distortion to work around Johnson's growling. One notable exception on Dusk is Slow Emotion Replay where Marr lays down the kind of riff that made The Smiths' The Queen is Dead such a success. Against such a jolly backing, Johnson's tortured voice seems a little incongruous, but the track is saved by an infectious chorus. Marr's influence on the album is much to the for e. He gets nice and retro on Sodium Light Baby, using a wah-wah pedal to crank out rhythm guitar highly reminiscent of what was hot in the late '60s. Lyrically, Sodium Light Baby addresses issues that are close to Johnson's heart. The crassness of city life closes in on the subject until it crushes his capacity to express or feel emotions and this, in turn, leads him to mistrust what he feels for those close to him. The inability to take control of emotion is re-visited in the haunting ballad Bluer Than Midnight. ''Why can't love ever touch my heart like fear does? '' Johnson sings over a spare, bluesy piano arrangement. For The The's tortured front man, emotion is often strong, rarely positive. Dusk is an excellent album, an intelligent work both lyrically and musically.